The Lambton Junior Sting PeeWee AAA began their weekend with a Friday night match with the London Jr. Knights. The boys were looking to avenge a 5-3 loss in London last weekend with a win back on home ice.
The puck would drop to begin the first period, with neither team generating many early scoring chances, not wanting to give up the first goal in this very important divisional match. Lambton would be the beneficiary of a couple of 1st period power plays, but would be unable to find the back of the net, despite some good puck movement.
As play entered the 2nd period, the Knights would go on the power play, but it would be Lambton that would score a shorthanded goal. Theo Crombeen would work hard along the boards to clear the defensive zone and find Lucas Knowles open along the right wing and Lucas would snap home a hard wrist shot that would beat the London goalie on the short side to give Lambton the 1-0 lead.
The Sting would enter the 3rd period with the lead and after killing off another penalty Lucas Knowles would find the back of the net once again as Josh Vale would find him open to the side of the Knights goal for a 2-0 lead. The physical element of the game would pick up at this point with both teams throwing the body around and London desperately trying to get on the score sheet. The game would get interesting with 4:30 left in the period as the door on the Lambton bench would become dysfunctional and both teams would leave the ice with fans left wondering what would happen next. After a short delay, the game would resume on the main ice pad with men’s league moving over to the #2 rink and left to deal with the faulty door. The game would finish off rather quietly, although Lambton would be forced to kill off another penalty and the Sting would take the game by a final score of 2-0. This game showed strong team commitment to the defensive zone with many blocked shots and players throwing their bodies in front of the puck supported by great goaltending from Jakob Knowles, who earned the shutout in net and co-POG with his brother Lucas.
For the second game of the weekend the Sting traveled to Chatham to take on the Cyclones who were wearing their black commemorative jerseys. Right off the opening faceoff the Lambton crew created early down low pressure which tested the Cyclone goalie early and often. The Sting continued the pressure tactics demonstrating a good cycle and fore check which eventually paid off with just under a minute to go in the first frame as Lucas Knowles dug the puck out and fed Theo Crombeen in front who back handed it home to open the scoring. The period ended with a Cyclone power play. Josh Bayne stood tall in net and made 2 key saves to end the period with the Sting leading by 1.
The second opened with the Sting attempting to kill off the back end of the Chatham power play. A nice feed from the corner to an unmarked man in front resulted in a shot from the high slot finding its mark and evening the score at 1 apiece. Ten seconds later the Sting again found themselves a man short and wondering just what exactly was going on. This time the Sting penalty killers held their ground and actually spent large chunks of time in the Chatham zone. The Sting were able to retake the lead as Lucas Knowles steamed up the off wing and fired a shot on net where Josh Vale was waiting to pop in the rebound. Off the ensuing faceoff Nic Direzze almost gave the Lambton side a 2 goal margin but a rolling puck thwarted his break-a-way attempt. Lucas Knowles however was able to put the Sting up by 2 while on a 2 on 1 effectively looked over to his decoy Cameron Adam before snapping one top shelf glove side. On a power play of their own the Sting demonstrated good puck movement and control but the penalty killers from Chatham would prevail on this occasion and keep the score at 3 – 1. The Sting would continue to come in waves as all three lines applied pressure on the Cyclone defenders. The visitors were awarded another power play which would carry over into the third period for their efforts.
The third opened with Joe Correia, playing on the wing instead of his customary spot on the blue line, showing some nifty puck control to gain the offensive zone. Joe then slid a pass in front to Josh Vale how netted his second goal of the game. 4 – 1 Sting. Dante Fuoco, showing some good vision, almost sprung a speeding Cameron Adam who had gotten in behind the Cyclone defense, with a bombed stretch pass from his own zone that just missed the outstretch reach … so close! Josh Bayne who had been having a rather quiet afternoon suddenly found himself quite busy as a Chatham attacker was left all alone in front. A flashing blocker sent the puck into the corner but it was soon back in front!! A rather intense scramble ensued with Josh making several saves only to be beaten by an unlucky bounce which pulled Chatham within 2 goals. The game ended with a 4 – 2 Sting victory. Josh Vale and Josh Bayne shared the POG award, one for his solid play in all zones and the other for making critical saves when we needed them. A special shout out also goes to Lucas Knowles who was physically dominant and shot the puck well again in this game.
The Sting headed to Waterloo on Sunday afternoon to finish off their 3 game weekend against the tough Wolves team.
The game started with kind of a feel out period between the two teams, exchanging rushes that were posing no real threat. About 5 minutes into the game the Sting strung to together 3 good shifts pinning the Wolves in their zone using an aggressive fore-check, but could not muster any good scoring chances. However, after letting off for a couple of shifts they returned taking the game to their opponents utilizing the body down low and from that creating some quality scoring chances from the slot. Things were looking great for the team and then wouldn’t you know it, Waterloo get a few lucky bounces and the puck ends up in the back of the net. The period ended 1-0.
The second period did not start well for the team. Again lady luck seemed to be resting on the shoulder of Waterloo, as an innocent shot from the point was deflected and changed direction twice before finding its way through the wickets. Give the boys some credit, they could have bowed their heads and felt sorry for themselves, but instead came out the next shift and took it to the Wolves once again. One good shift led to another, which led to a couple of more great score chances. The Wolves were back on their heels as all 3 shifts were skating relentlessly. The Sting took an unfortunate penalty and ended up shorthanded, but this did not halt their aggressive play. The forwards persistently hounded the Wolves defensemen making it tough for a clean breakout. When they did finally get out of their zone the puck was intercepted in the neutral zone by Cameron Adam, who chipped off the boards to a streaking Dante Fuoco who glided down the right side and took a nice low shot that squeaked through the goaltenders equipment crossing the line narrowing the margin to 2-1. Things were looking good for Lambton and perhaps luck was going to shift our way, however, on the ensuing PP, Waterloo were able to tame another bouncing puck out front and put it away, to retain their 2 goal lead going into the 3rd period.
Waterloo had the upper hand early on in the 3rd period, causing a bit of havoc in the Sting zone but the defense and goaltending staved off this threat preventing any further damage. From there, the Sting elevated their game again and tested the Wolves defensive abilities. One great rush into Wolves territory produced a second goal which was disallowed. The boys hard work however, would finally pay off as Theo Crombeen stationed behind the net would make a great pass to Joey Ferrera who found himself open out from and made no mistake burying the puck. Time now was becoming a factor and the Sting pulled the goalie in hopes to manufacture that tying goal but just could not manage it. The final was 3-2 in a very entertaining game. Cameron Adam earned the POG award for his tireless efforts especially on the penalty kill. A tip of the hat also to Joey Ferrera.
The Sting played a great game, outplaying a tough opponent that had a bit of luck on their side. With that kind of work ethic and maybe a few bounces our way, teams like Waterloo will fall. Overall, the boys had a great 3 day weekend coming out with 4 of a possible 6 points.
Coaches comments:“The boys played well for 3 days in a row with a shortened bench against some very good competition. A 2-1-0 record with a 1 goal loss in our 3rd game of the weekend, against the top East Division team, Waterloo Wolves, very respectable I’d say! We saw many good saves combined with solid offensive-defensive plays and all 3 games were very entertaining for our fans. We are happy with the effort and really look forward to the Nations Cup tournament where the boys will get to represent their country at a very young age in a highly competitive tournament.``