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Wednesday, April 17, 2024
NOTL U18 Wolves to compete in provincial finals after ousting Fort Erie
Logan Rossi (9) Andrew Bayne (7) and Lucas Roberts Ramos (87) celebrate last Wednesday night's second goal by #18 Dylan Price, right. NOTL won 3-0 then wrapped up the series on the road Thursday. PHOTOGRAPHY BY DAVE VAN DE LAAR
Dylan Price hits the glass to celebrate with fans after putting NOTL up 2-0. PHOTOGRAPHY BY DAVE VAN DE LAAR
Andrew Bayne (7) and Lucas Roberts Ramos (87) watch as Dylan Price's second goal hits the back of the net. PHOTOGRAPHY BY DAVE VAN DE LAAR
The Virgil arena was packed and here fans are cheering after Dylan Price's third goal of the game. PHOTOGRAPHY BY DAVE VAN DE LAAR
NOTL's Billy Pillitteri-Smith gets a shot on the Fort Erie net. PHOTOGRAPHY BY DAVE VAN DE LAAR
Lucas Roberts Ramos attacks the Fort Erie net. PHOTOGRAPHY BY DAVE VAN DE LAAR
These five members of the NOTL Wolves U18 rep team played they last minor hockey game in the OMHA tourney in Kingston. From left, Logan Smythe, Nick Munera, Marco Gruosso, Lucas Roberts Ramos and Carter Lalonde. They're pictured after winning the Silver Stick tourney in November. PHOTOGRAPHY BY DAVE VAN DE LAAR

Next stop, Kingston.

The Niagara-on-the-Lake U18 Wolves rep team has qualified for the provincial championship tournament and will compete for top honours in Kingston from April 5 to 7.

Defenceman Calo Zambito’s third-period goal Thursday night in Fort Erie was all NOTL needed.

They skated away with a 1-1 tie and the point they earned was enough to give them the series win over the Meteors four points to two.

The teams had tied game one 1-1 last Monday and NOTL took game two 3-0 at home on Wednesday.

The series win means the Wolves will compete with seven other teams from across the province for the Ontario Minor Hockey Association U18 Tier 1 Championship.

For five members of the Wolves, it will be a chance to end their minor hockey careers on a high note.

Captain Marco Gruosso, assistant captain Lucas Roberts Ramos, Logan Smythe, Nick Munera and Carter Lalonde are all in their final year of eligibility with NOTL hockey.

On Thursday night, “Discipline was a factor here from our group where they more or less stayed out of the penalty box, came together as a group and rallied together toward the common goal,” head coach Devon Neudorf said afterward.

The Wolves were down 1-0 after two periods and knew they only needed a tie to gain the fourth point and advance to OMHA finals.

“The coaching staff drove home the fact of sticking to the game plan, defending well and that if we could win that third period we would advance to OMHAs,” Neudorf said.

Zambito’s power-play goal with 12:05 left in the third period came on a point shot, with forwards Andrew Bayne and Roberts Ramos screening the Meteors’ goaltender, the coach added.

Bayne earned an assist on the goal.

It’s the second time this season that Zambito has provided big-game heroics that led to an important team win.

“He also scored both goals in our 2-1 win over South Muskoka in the finals of the Midland Silver Stick back in November,” Neudorf said.

He was the team’s player of the game Thursday as he was battling hard in the corners even prior to scoring his goal, the coach added.

“Missing two of our top defencemen, we rallied together as a group to defend well and had strong performances all series by Mitchell Olsen, Brandon Falk, Devin Hunter and Logan Smythe,” he said.

Team defence was a huge factor in the series, Neudorf said, as “they cleared the front of the net to make our goalie’s job easier.”

Goaltender Quinten Davis once again turned in a stellar performance Thursday, allowing a single goal on about 30 shots, including a few point-blank saves, he added.

“Davis was a brick wall all series in net and the Fort Erie coaches commented on that to us after the (final) game.”

Next up is the Niagara District Hockey League Championship game versus Port Colborne.

It will be played in Virgil, likely next Wednesday, Neudorf said. Details are still to be confirmed.

Looking ahead to the OMHA tournament in Kingston, NOTL will face Elmvale on April 5 and then play two games April 6 against opponents whose playoff series wrap up tonight, Friday.

 

EARLIER STORY:

Price is right: Sniper ends slump with hat trick to give U18 Wolves series lead

The team’s top sniper, Dylan Price, ended a scoring drought and notched all three goals in leading the Niagara-on-the-Lake Wolves U18 rep team to a crucial 3-0 playoff win Wednesday night.

Price, who had only one goal over the past seven playoff games, lit it up big time on home ice with a natural hat trick to put the Fort Erie Meteors on the brink of elimination.

The teams are fighting for the right to represent the Niagara District in the Ontario Minor Hockey Association Tier 1 championships in Kingston in two weeks.

All three of Price’s markers came on the power play, head coach Devon Neudorf noted.

“It was great to see him break out in a big game like that,” his coach said.

Goalie Quinten Davis was the hero between the pipes and earned the shutout.

“Davis faced probably 25 to 30 shots and made some big saves for us,” Neudorf added.

The game was scoreless until Price’s first goal halfway through the second period. He wrapped things up with two more in the third.

His final tally came with just 35 seconds left to play.

NOTL leads the best-of-three series three points to none, thanks to a tie on the road on Monday and Wednesday night’s lopsided win in Virgil.

The first team to four points wins the series and NOTL appears to now be in the driver’s seat.

The teams go at it again tonight (Thursday) back in Fort Erie. NOTL just needs a single point to wrap it up but Fort Erie is expected to come out hard to try to stave off elimination.

If a fourth game is needed, it will be played in Virgil on Friday night.

Check back later for updates …

 

EARLIER STORY: U18 Wolves weather storm to earn key playoff tie

Down two men for more than six minutes, late in the second period and into the third, the NOTL Wolves U18 rep team dug deep and weathered the powerplay onslaught by the Fort Erie Meteors on Monday night.

Defending a 5-on-3 can be exhausting but Niagara-on-the-Lake emerged largely unscathed, giving up just one goal over the span and holding on to earn a 1-1 tie on the road in Fort Erie.

It was the first game of a best-of-three Niagara District playoff series and up for grabs is a chance to represent the region in the Ontario Minor Hockey Association Tier 1 championship tournament in Kingston April 5 to 7.

For five members of the Wolves, it would be a chance to end their minor hockey careers on a high note, competing for a provincial title.

Captain Marco Gruosso, assistant captain Lucas Roberts Ramos, Logan Smythe, Nick Munera and Carter Lalonde are all in their final year of eligibility with NOTL hockey.

So, Monday night the intensity was at a fever pitch and the arena was rocking.

NOTL led 1-0 after a late first-period goal from Noah Whyte, assisted by Marco Gruosso and Nick Munera.

The Wolves carried that lead into the second but with 3:57 left in the middle period, the penalty parade began.

Slashing, three consecutive head contact penalties, a delay of game minor when the net got knocked off its moorings and another head contact call just seconds into the third forced NOTL to play two men short for what likely seemed an eternity.

Aggressive defence and a rock-solid performance by goaltender Quinten Davis ensured the Wolves kept the Meteors at bay.

Instead, NOTL effectively now has home-ice advantage, with game 2 scheduled for Wednesday evening in Virgil, game 3 back in Fort Erie and a final, tie-breaker game, if needed, back in NOTL on Friday night.

Head coach Devon Neudorf was proud of his team’s performance.

“It was a hell of an effort from the boys,” he told The Lake Report.

The game was a real barn burner, he said, and “it was great to see the boys dig deep and hold on to a point nonetheless.”

“It was really just a solid effort up and down the lineup where everyone put forth their best effort,” he said.

Fort Erie is one of the few teams NOTL has a losing record against, but the games have been close. The teams are evenly matched, but play different styles, Neudorf said.

“They’re a bigger and heavier team than us and kind of leverage that to their abilities. And I would say that we’re a smaller, faster, more skilled team.”

“Now we’ve got them at home (Wednesday) night, in Fort Erie Thursday and, if needed, back at home Friday night for a tie-breaker game.”

The series is not a standard win two out of three, but rather the first team to four points.

“So, the tie is a bit of a reset where we take on the home-ice advantage now moving forward,” Neudorf said.

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