MANITOULIN—The score is all tied up in the Manitoulin Mustangs-Notre Dame semi-final round of boys’ hockey with one game remaining in the best of three series to be played this Thursday, February 19 at 6:30 pm at Countryside Arena.
Last Thursday night, Manitoulin came out strong in the first period over Notre Dame scoring four goals to Notre Dame’s one. “But then we kind of set back, complacency set in,” admitted Mustangs coach Brad Bond. By the end of the second the score was now 4-3, still in the Mustangs favour.
In the third period Justice Corbiere notched two goals for a hat trick bringing the final score to 6-3 for the Mustangs.
“I can’t say enough about our four defensemen: Mason Pine, Braedan Case, Parker Dickinson (all of whom are in Grade 10) and Brett Varey (Grade 12),” Mr. Bond told The Expositor, noting that the shorthandedness of the defense squad means a lot of ice time for these four players.
The following night, Friday, the teams squared off again at the Little Current barn. While the game started out well, it quickly went south.
“Their goalie was fantastic,” Mr. Bond said of the Notre Dame netminder. “They scored three power play goals and we couldn’t capitalize on ours. Their goalie stole the game—he made some fantastic saves.”
The coach said exhaustion likely had a part to play in the demise of the Friday night game. With a late return the previous night coupled with an early morning, the Mustangs were not well rested for the semi-final match.
With the return of Mustangs forward Ben Haner after a family holiday, this means the team will again have three lines for the final matchup against Notre Dame Thursday night.
Coach Bond said the plan is to “play the same way we did Thursday night and eliminate the penalties.”
“I think we’re the better team, but if things don’t go well we need to stay out of the box, stay focussed and keep pressing forward,” he added.
If the Mustangs win Thursday they move on to the championship round, facing off against either Confederation or St. Charles, who are currently tangling in the other semi-final round. A win at the Sudbury District level will mean a berth at the Northern Ontario Secondary School Athletics championships.
Keep watch on The Expositor’s Facebook page Thursday night for live updates, Facebook.com/ManitoulinExpositor.