OMHA Peewee series heads to game five
|By Mark Arike - Staff Writer | March 27, 2015
The Peewee Highland Storm team is looking for a win this Saturday to become All-Ontario champions.
This past weekend, the team defeated the Ingersoll Express 4-2 in their first game on Saturday but lost 4-2 to their opponents the following day.
The intense Ontario Minor Hockey Association (OMHA) playdown series is tied at two games apiece.
"The level we're at now, there's obviously a lot of tension," said coach Jason Morissette. "It is intense because you're at a high level. Both teams are really good."
Oftentimes it's a game of inches, said Morissette.
"Really, you're looking for a bounce. That's how I describe it."
According to Morissette, his team controlled most of the first period and outshot the Express. However, due to strong goaltending the game remained scoreless at the end of the period.
In the second, the Storm kept the momentum going their way with superb two-way play from Tyson Clements and Braeden Robinson. Joe Boice went on to score with assists from Nigel Smith and Zach Morissette. The team kept up the pressure in the second and captured a power play. With solid puck movement, Isaac Little put himself in position for a pass from Ryan Hall, which resulted in the second goal of the match.
Although the Peewees had a 2-0 lead at the end of the second, the third period got off to a different start as Ingersoll pressed more scoring on a power play to make it 2-1. With momentum going their way and a penalty to the Storm, the Express tied the game with six minutes left.
Similar to many other games this season, the Storm rallied late in the game on strong back end leadership and offense. With three minutes left, captain Ryan Hall put the puck in the top corner with a backhander. Ingersoll pulled their goalie, but it wasn't enough to change the final outcome of the game.
Alex Little sealed their fate with a goal into the empty net.
"I was happy that we won the first game," said Morissette. "That was huge – to steal a game down there."
The team seemed confident heading into their second game on Sunday morning. However, the kids were tired from travelling to another town and staying over at a hotel.
As expected, the Express came out flying to fight for the championship. The Storm pushed back with strong play on the boards from Cole Prentice and Aaron Bellefleur. The Express began to outshoot the Storm and brought on their offense, but Ethan Glecoff showed his impressive rookie form and played excellent in net. When the Storm were called on back-to-back penalties the strong Express power play went to work. Express player Brennan Rupert would notch two power play goals and the Express would add one more to take a 3-0 lead at the end of the second.
The Storm team entered the third period frustrated but determined to claw their way back into the game. Issac Little started it off for the team with passes from Alex Little and Paul Turner. Soon after the Express responded with a goal to make it 4-1. The Storm didn't give up at any point and Joe Boice responded with a goal on passes from Ryan Hall and Benn MacNaull. With momentum going their way and time left on the clock, the Storm again were sent to the box and put on the penalty kill. With the penalty killed and too little time left, Ingersoll won the game.
Similar to what Bantam coach James Reilly said, Morissette and others felt that the refereeing wasn't quite up to par.
"For that level of hockey we had some weak refereeing. When you see two teams at that level you generally see a more evenly reffed game," he said.
Heading into last weekend, Morissette reminded his players to remember what got them to this point in the first place.
"Everybody has a contribution they've made this year."
In recent days, the team has adjusted their strategy and is doing an extra practice this week.
Morissette said that the Ingersoll team has a couple of players who are very skilled and quick.
"If we have turnovers on the ice their team can really get into our end quickly," he pointed out. "The system that we have in place for the kids is to make sure they're putting back pressure on those players."
All that the coaching staff asks, he said, is that the team plays their very best.
"We're just hoping they go out and play their best. If they play their best they're in great shape."
The final game takes place on March 28 at 5 p.m. at the S.G. Nesbitt Arena in Minden.
All local hockey fans are being encouraged to attend and cheer on the team.
- With files from Jason Morissette
MARK ARIKE is a reporter for The Highlander.