WEEK 2 - WHO'S THE EARLY FAVOURITE

Player of the Game

Travis Whitehead - 3 Goals and 2 Assists

The Blizzard and Tornados both posted a win on Week One and both teams were looking to keep the streak going. Captain Dwayne Blanchard had a full turnout, but Captain Kyle Bayers found himself with just one sub against a team that scored 13 goals last week while missing two runners. Travis Whitehead set up Big Brandon Kane for the opening goal, notched one himself a few seconds later, and then set up Sheamus MacDonald on his next shift to give the blue crew a 3-0 lead. Six scoreless minutes went by before Ernlie Publicover buried a feed from Kyle Cross to get the Tors on the scoreboard, and Cross lit the lamp a minute later on a sweet feed from Matt Mitchell to cut the deficit to one. Seconds after the faceoff, Cross took a slashing penalty and Dwayne teed up Brandon for his second goal during the powerplay to put the Blizzard up 4-2 before the intermission. 

The Tornados came out blazing in the final frame. KB set up KC for a goal just one minute in, and then he scored an unassisted gem on the same shift to draw his team level at 4-4. Bayers converted a play from Matty to give the Tors their first lead of the game, but Travis tickled the twine on a pass from Dwayne about a minute later to knot the score at five apiece with 15 minutes remaining. Whitehead took a holding penalty shortly after play resumed and KB set up KC for a hat-trick goal on the resulting powerplay to restore the one-goal edge. The blue PK thwarted the orange PP when Blanchard took a slashing penalty, but Cross scored his fourth soon after that and Tors led 7-5 with six to go. 

Freddie Hutchison took the third straight Blizzard penalty on the next shift, but the Blizzard’s Rylan Smith struck for a shorthanded marker (a category he’s likely to lead at the end of the season) and suddenly it was a one-goal game again. Cross teed up Mitchell for a powerplay marker a few seconds later, making it an 8-6 lead with three to go. Travis completed his hat trick when he buried a pass from Dwayne with under two minutes left, setting the stage for a wild finish. The Blizzard poured it on, ultimately outshooting their opponents 47-37, but they couldn’t find the equalizer in the waning moments and the Tornados escaped with an 8-7 win to remain undefeated. 

 

Player of the Game

Mike DeGrace - 0.982 Save Pct

The Lightning were coming off a lopsided victory in Week One but they only had one sub for this week’s game. The Thunder followed a poor first period in their first game with a strong final period, but still lost 13-10. Same roster this week, but which side of themselves would they show? Would they be Dr. Jekyll or would they be Mr. Hyde? After four scoreless minutes, Ricky Miller took a tripping penalty. The Bolts cashed in on the powerplay when Woody Gouthro threaded a pass to Kenny White, and Woody buried a feed from Matt Grove about a minute later to make it a 2-0 lead. Captain Tony Casella knew the next goal would be big and he tried to spark a fire under his crew, but goaltender Mike DeGrace kept foiling the Thunder shooters and the lead remained 2-0 for eight scoreless minutes. Captain Alex McLeod ended the dry spell on a pass from Woody, and then he set up Kenny’s second goal in the final minute of play to establish a 4-0 Lightning lead before the break. 

A fast start in the final frame is what the Thunder squad was looking for. Instead, it was the Bolts who took command of the game. Myles Raymond set up three straight goals before the period was even three minutes old, one from Alex and two from Kenny. Two minutes later, Kenny got a penalty for what is described as “Body Rubbing.” [Author’s Note: I do not know what this penalty looked like. I wasn’t there to see it, which is good because it sounds like something I could never unsee.] After Woody set up Grove for a shorty, the score was 8-0 and the game was effectively over. Eleven scoreless minutes went by, Grove scored again on another tasty dish from Woody, and Ricky spoiled Mike’s shutout bid on a feed from Tommy Zivanovich with less than two minutes to go. 

Much like the Tornados in the early game, the Lightning took advantage of having the right five guys as runners, players capable of handling an increased workload without running out of stamina. That being said, Mike was named Player of the Game thanks to a brilliant effort between the pipes. The Lightning now sit atop the standings with a 2-0 record, 21 GF, and 2 GA. Read that last sentence again. There are no typos. 

Player of the Game

Matt Strum - 4 Goals and 4 Assists

Captain Gord Caines led his team to the Achilles Cup last season and he has a good chunk of that winning roster on his team again this season, but last week his crimson crew were on the wrong end of a blowout. Rookie Captain Matt Strum also lost last week, falling 8-4 with only five runners in attendance, but this week he was only missing one runner (Dave Cooper). Which team would bounce back with a win? Strum opened the scoring on a feed from Jordan Castilloux in the first minute of play. Fast forward 5 minutes and he struck again, burying a pass from Mike Collier, and he completed a natural hattie on the same shift when he finished off a nice dish from Chris Sampson. Gord got his team on the scoreboard with an unassisted goal at the eleven-minute mark but his team couldn’t grab the momentum, thanks in no small part to solid goalkeeping from Bob Strum. Eight scoreless minutes fell away before Jordan polished off a pass from his Captain to make it 4-1 Cyclones, a score that held up until halftime. 

Just like the first period, the Cyclones kept finding ways to score while the Hurricanes struggled to bury their chances. Strum added his fourth, Jordan scored back-to-back goals to complete his hat trick, and the lead ballooned to 7-1. Gord notched his second on a nice play from Cameron Power, cutting the deficit to five with ten minutes to play, but two quick goals from Sheldon Hart and Adam Healy put the green machine in the driver seat with a 9-2 lead. Cameron scored on a setup from Greg Wheaton and then he hooked up Gord for his hat-trick marker on the same shift, but it was a case of too little, too late. Sampson lit the lamp twice in the final two minutes to wrap up the scoring, capping off a strong team effort that saw the Cyclones grab an 11-4 win. In contrast, the Hurricanes couldn’t find their mojo for the second straight week. If there’s a bright side to this situation for Gord, his team overcame a slow start last season and went on to win the Championship. He already knows the recipe for turning a season around. Looks like it’s time to start cooking.