Now things in the North are getting a little interesting. While every team has played at least a handful of games now, the jury is still out on teams like Stouffville and Lindsay. This past week saw a couple of divisional games that provided excitement and entertainment for fans watching. Here’s the quick look back on the week it was in the North.
Game of the Week Review: Stouffville Spirit 1 - 2 Pickering Panthers
Pickering was coming off an impressive weekend grabbing 3 of a possible 4 points with a shoot out loss to Milton and a tight victory over Wellington. Stouffville meanwhile was coming off a huge victory over divisional rival Newmarket in a game that saw the Spirit come out firing. Both teams were playing solid defense and this game would once again prove that team defense will win games for you against your division opponents.
The start to the game had a little of everything; speed, physicality, scoring chances for both sides, as well as strong (and at some points spectacular) goaltending. For the first 15 minutes it looked like no one was going to score on Steven Dombrowski (PIC) or Daniel Mannella (STO), that was until Riley Devine picked up a loss puck in the slot and fired a hard, low wrist shot past Mannella to give Pickering a one goal lead heading into the first intermission. Pickering outshot Stouffville 10-6 in the frame.
The second period was a little more chippy as it was clear both teams did not like each other. An early penalty for eblowing to Pickering defense man Sean Power (who played last season in Stouffville) resulted in a power play goal by Michael Morgan to tie the game at the 1:58 minute mark. The teams were once again locked in a battle on the ice with players challenging each other with lots of hits. Finally for the second time, it was Devine getting his 2nd of the game after a beautiful passing play from Sean Power and Brodie Tutton (who kept his 5 game point streak alive) to give Pickering another one goal lead after 40 minutes; the shots were 13-9 in the period for PIC.
The 3rd period would become another goaltenders dual. Both Dombrowski and Mannella were making all kinds of saves to keep their team ahead or in it. Multiple times it looked like Stouffville could have tied the game or Pickering could have increased their lead, however the men behind the masks had a different idea. The game would end in a flurry of attack from Stouffville as they pulled the goalie to try and equalize, but the Panther unit on the ice in the dying moments would keep getting into the shooting lanes and blocked shot after shot until the final buzzer sounded. Final shots were 26-22 for Pickering.
The Panthers won their second straight game by a count of 2-1 showing that defensively this team has bought into the system that Head Coach Mike Galati wanted to establish. He’s getting a solid effort from not only his 6 defense men, but also from his forwards who continually back check hard and will quickly force turnovers and counterattacks. Even with their loss on Saturday to Georgetown (5-1) the Panthers hold a 3 - 1 - 2 record to this point heading into this weekends match-ups in Lindsay on Friday and then against Trenton Saturday in Oakville as part of the Governors Showcase, and considering that it was almost mid November before this team had 3 wins, it’s impressive to see where this team is.
North Division 3 Stars For Sept 17 - 23
3. Riley Devine (Pickering Panthers) - Scored the only 2 goals Pickering would need in a victory over Stouffville
2. Stefan von Engelbrechten (Lindsay Muskies) - Helped his team with two goals in a victory over Orangeville
1. Cameron Nicoll (Newmarket Hurricanes) -scoring a goal and three assists to help NMK get back on track after a disappointing outing last week in Stouffville.
Honourable Mentions*: Taylor Joseph (NMK; 2G) and Jake Ryan (LIN; 2A) *Yeah there are two honourable mentions but both players deserved to get mentioned
North Division Rookie of the Week: Alex Gilmour (Aurora Tigers)
Gilmour had a break out game versus Orangeville this past week scoring a hat-trick in a big win for Aurora (which by the way he scored the game winner in). He would be held pointless the following night against Whitby, but this rookie is looking to help Aurora get back to the top.
Team of the Week: Newmarket Hurricanes
For the second straight week the Hurricanes have earned the team of the week status, but it’s not as convincing as last week. With every team in the North Division winning and losing a game over the weekend, the Hurricanes earned it this week because they played two tough games in a back-to-back situation. First they played at home to Oakville and lost a hard fought game (5-4), a loss that would usually deflate a team for a while. But Newmarket had to forget that game and move on ahead quickly for they played in St. Michaels the following night, and boy did they play. After trailing at a couple points in game, Newmarket found themselves coming out on top 6-5 in shootout. They continue to sit atop the North Division with 10 points, however Pickering has 7 points, Aurora has 5, and Stouffville and Lindsay have 4 each, so nothing is safe yet.
Honourable Mention: Pickering Panthers
Also for the second straight week the Panthers earn the honourable mention as team of the week. Impressive wins over Wellington and Stouffville have kept this team in it early.
Game of the Week Preview:
I’m going to cheat a little here and say that the game (or games) of the week are going to happen on Saturday and Sunday in Oakville at the Governors Showcase. With everyone who is going to be in attendance there to watch some of these players, you know every team is going to come out to play a hard fought game. During the weekend, Pickering will take on Trenton, Aurora will play Cobourg, Stouffville takes on Kingston, Newmarket faces off against Wellington, and Lindsay is against Whitby. Of these games, I will be most interested to see the NMK/WEL game simply because these are two top notch programs and you know both teams not only want to 2 points on the line, but each player (especially those on Wellington) will want to showcase their talent.
See everyone in Oakville on Saturday and Sunday! And be sure to look out for a special Governors Showcase Review next week!