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Niagara Falls
Friday, March 31, 2023
SPORTS: Two unexpected losses and a key win for Jr. A Predators
Niagara's Nolan Wyers leads a rush into the Streetsville zone during last Friday's loss. Kevan Dowd

It was a weekend of disappointment, redemption and surprise for the Jr. A Niagara Predators.

Starting a run of four straight games on Friday, the second-last place Streetsville Flyers proved to be an unexpected foil for the Predators, leading to a disappointing 6-5 shootout loss Friday and a 4-2 loss on Sunday.

There was short-lived redemption in between, with Saturday’s 10-1 road win against the Tottenham Thunder, but the real surprise came Monday night.

The Predators managed a 4-3 win over the third-place Durham Roadrunners, a first for their season.

With the season winding down, the weekend showcased some inconsistency and unpredictability by the Predators.

“It kind of makes you scratch your head. Where were they Friday and Sunday?” said Predators head coach Kevin Taylor after Monday’s win.

“It somewhat salvaged the weekend. I was expecting six points coming out of that weekend and we came out with five.”

The Predators still cling to fourth place in the Greater Metro Hockey League’s south division. The Northumberland Stars sit two points behind them and the St. George Ravens five, with a few regular season games left for each team.

Taylor admits Monday’s win was unexpected and thinks an addition behind the bench may have been the difference-maker.

“What changed was having (Predators president Robert Turnbull) on the bench,” he said.

“He took over the defence and just the whole atmosphere changed,” said Taylor, adding he hopes Turnbull stays.

“It alleviates a lot of the pressure on me and I can focus on the guys out front. There’s an instant respect when he is there.”

As for the two losses to Streetsville – a team with a 8-31-0 record – Taylor thinks the issue came down to infighting and an individualism mentality among his players.

“There’s a little bit of turmoil in that the forwards are blaming the defence and the defence are blaming the forwards and they just don’t show up. We shouldn’t be putting ourselves into those situations but we did,” he said.

“These guys have to realize their limitations and they’re trying to do too much. They’re trying to be the hero of the game.”

The Predators have just a few games left, including a Friday date against Streetsville.

Despite last weekend’s two losses to the Flyers, Taylor said Monday’s win over Durham changes things.

“You could feel the confidence on the bench. In the past when we’ve been down, they’ve been like, ‘I can go out and do it myself,’ ” he said.

“I think it showed that we could actually compete. We didn’t just compete, we were there. They wanted to win that game.”

The Predators take on Streetsville at the Meridian Credit Union Arena this Friday at 7:30 p.m. hoping to bounce back and maybe nail down fourth place.

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