(KINGSVILLE, ON) – Before a large, raucous crowd at the Kingsville Arena, the hometown Kings
defeated the Tottenham Steam, 4-1, in Greater Metro Junior A playoff action on Friday night. Tottenham, 11-0 in the playoffs and GMHL regular season champions, had only lost once all season.
Both teams, having lain waste to their respective divisions, and neck-and-neck in their regular season pennant race throughout the year, no doubt eagerly anticipated this match up. The game proved to be a hard-hitting, chippy affair, where no quarter was given.
The two teams started off slowly, but an abundance of penalties rapidly shifted the momentum. Just under six minutes in, the Steam’s Stepan Timofeyev drilled a puck past Kingsville’s Jan Pechek to make the score 1-0.
A 5-on-3 advantage for the Steam late in the frame stymied any steady pressure the Kings had placed on Tottenham’s defense.
The Kings, taking advantage of a succession of Steam penalties, just minutes into the second period, laid siege to goaltender Denny Dubblestyne. At 8:15 of the period, Kingsville’s Ludwig Niederbach rifled a shot past the Steam net minder, after an odd-man rush, to tie the game.
Only two minutes later, Lukas Havelka connected with a blast from the point to give the Kings the lead.
Early in the third, Kingsville’s Devin Darrah flew around a flat-footed defender and tucked the puck by the Steam goalie to extend the lead to two. The parade to the penalty box continued for both teams, but the extra real estate allowed Darrah to get some great cracks at Dubblestyne, who was up to the task.
Unfortunately, after a pair of breakaway chances while shorthanded, an unsuspecting Darrah was shoved into the end boards by Tottenham’s Frederik Sury. Darrah was helped from the ice not to return while Sury was given a boarding major and ejected from the game.
With 4:27 left, Mathias Gardiman extended the Kings lead to 4-1, while on the power play. The final minutes of the game devolved into a series of skirmishes. Meanwhile, the Steam bench was awarded a minor and a pair of coaches ejected.
Pechek was stoic in net, making 40 saves in the win; many of them acrobatic in nature.
Dubblestyne faced 32 shots for the Steam.
The Kings and the Steam meet for a re-play on Tuesday in Tottenham.
With the win, the Kings take the lead in the Russell Cup round robin with a 2-0 record, while Tottenham drops to 1-1. Rounding out the standings are the Almaguin Spartans, who are winless.
The winner of the round robin receives a bye to the final, while the two remaining teams are forced to play a single game, sudden death play-in.
On Saturday, the Kings were on the road in South River for a rematch against Almaguin. Kingsville started quick and continued to pour on the pressure toward a 7-1 win.
Danil Burdov opened the scoring at 1:53 of the 1st period and was followed with goals by Branko Oktavec and Callum Hofford for a 3-0 lead after 20 minutes.
Ryan Gruszka, Blake Naida, and Darrah with 2 extended Kingsville’s lead to 7-0 by the end of the hostile 2nd period.
In the final frame, Matthew Janke scored at 9:28 to ruin Pechek’s shutout bid. The Kingsville goaltender was the difference in the game as he stopped 41 of 42 shots sent his way while Tanner Emerson and Andrew Cunningham faced 19 and 24 shots, respectively, with the former giving up 6 goals.
– with files from Ian Shalapata.