We officially have a race in the North Division. After the Pickering Panthers lost their 8th in a row on Sunday to the Trenton Golden Hawks, they now sit only 2 points ahead of the Newmarket Hurricanes and the 5 in front of Stouffville. Lindsay has hung around long enough and if they get a run going, we could see the 4 teams in the North battle it out for the last 2 playoff spots. I think at this point it may be safe to say that the Aurora Tigers are on their way to a division title, with 61 points currently the Tigers are focused on a run for the most points in the league and home ice advantage in the postseason.
North Division Game of the Week Review: Newmarket Hurricanes 5 - 4 Pickering Panthers
If anyone needed an example of the type of season the Panthers and Hurricanes were having this was the game to experience it. Both teams started the game slow and sloppy, passes weren’t connecting and there was no real flow to it. A goal by Adam Smith at 2:31 was a soft shot from the point that went through 4 bodies and found it’s way into the back of the net for Newmarket. Curtis Harvey would then increase the lead to 2 off another shot from the point that had eyes and slid past Panther goaltender Steven Dombrosky who was making his 38th start of the season. It seemed like Newmarket was going to be able to walk away with this one early, but a bad break from goalie Bo Bessette at the 17:20 mark gave the Panthers life. After the puck was dumped into the zone, Bessette came out of his net into the corner to play the puck up the boards, unfortunately his pass went right onto the stick of Panther forward Michael Walker who fired it home into the empty net and the Panthers cut the lead to 1. Thirty seconds later though Trevor Petersen scored on a 2-on-1 with the assist coming from Brandon Francisco and the first period ended with Newmarket ahead 3-1.
The Hurricanes wouldn’t waste anytime in the second with an early powerplay opportunity when Jordan Oshowy capitalized with another point shot that went through bodies and past Dombrosky. The would be it for him giving up 4 goals on only 10 shots in 22 minutes and was replaced by Greg Zupan. The move made by Assistant Coach Jay Knuth once again seemed like it jump-started the Panthers who would respond just 3 minutes later off another weird goal against Bessette. Chasing the puck down into the corner, Mike Nedoszytko fired it towards the front of the net from behind the goal-line and somehow the puck got stuck under Bessette’s pads and knocked it into his own net. It was just one of those night’s where nothing seemed to go right for Bo Bessette and the Panthers were getting all the lucky bounces. The teams would exchange goals agains before the period ended making it a 5-3 lead for Newmarket after two periods, but Pickering had the shot advantage at 25 - 21.
The third period was the best of the game for both teams. Back and forth, end-to-end action dominated the final 20 minutes as you could tell both teams knew the importance of the two points that were on the line. A Panther win would end their 6 game losing streak and gain a 6 point advantage over Newmarket, while the Hurricanes were looking to close the gap to 2. Mike Nedoszytko would score at the 12:59 mark to make it a one goal game, and the Panthers continued to press the attack, firing 11 shots in the 3rd in total while only allowing Newmarket to 8 shots, but Bo Bessette regained himself and the Hurricanes held on for the 5-4 victory, it wasn’t pretty but the you know the Hurricanes will take it! Bessette finished the game stopping 32 of 36 shots while Greg Zupan stopped 18 of 19 after coming in relief of Dombrosky.
North Division 3 Stars:
3. Joseph Vocino - Lindsay Muskies
- scored a natural hat-trick in the Muskies 6-2 beat-down of the Hamilton Red Wings on Jan 17
2. Patrick Morgan - Lindsay Muskies
- 2 goals vs North York followed up by getting a goal and an assist vs Hamilton.
1. Robert Angiolella - Aurora Tigers
- 2 goals and 2 assists versus Stouffville and one goal versus St. Michaels, Angiolella scored in back-to-back games after missing since December 13 for the Tigers.
North Division Rookie of the Week: Tyler Boston - Aurora Tigers
- In the midst of a 3 game scoring streak, Boston collected a goal and 2 assists this week, giving him a season total of 4 goals and 12 assists.
North Division Team of the Week: Aurora Tigers
Riding another extensive win streak, the Tigers have the North Division in their hands at the moment. 6 wins in a row and an overall record of 25 - 9 for 61 points and just announced a CJHL Top 20 Ranking (15th) and rising. The Tigers are now hunting down the Regular Season League title, currently tied with Cobourg (CJHL Honourable Mention) and sit only 2 points behind the Kingston Voyageurs (CJHL Ranked 9th).
North Division Game of the Week Preview: Aurora Tigers at Buffalo Jr. Sabres, Tuesday January 21, 2014 at 7:30pm EST
The Tigers will be looking to extend their win streak to seven games against a Jr. Sabres team that is 12 - 0 - 3 - 5 at home and also has the best powerplay in the league. The Sabres may have less points than the Tigers, but if Aurora wants to make a deep run in the playoffs they are going to have to beat the tough teams from the other divisions, and this will be a good test for them.