After spending nearly six weeks on the road, the Huntsville Otters Aquadome novice rep team was eager to dive back into their home pond this weekend. Huntsville fans were happy to see their mighty little Otters back on home ice, this time taking on the Muskoka Rock.
Spectators filled the seats at the Canada Summit Centre while Otters crowded at the entrance to the rink anticipating the moment they would feel their skates cutting into familiar ice. Over a dozen noses pressed up against the glass, some of which had been sniffing out the net as the Otters ultimately went on to score a hat trick of hat tricks, a shutout for the goalie and a total of 11 goals on 11/11!
The first period became a tight defensive battle with much of the action happening between the blue lines and in the corners. There were few scoring chances, and even fewer shots on goal, a trend that continued into the second period. It seemed like the game was headed for a very low final score but the Otters had other ideas.
The Otters coaches did a nice job keeping the team focused, juggling lines and always giving encouragement to the players. With only a few minutes remaining in the second period it all came together for the Otters as Braeden Higgs, assisted by Taylor Carnduff, opened the scoring. Two minutes later Higgs struck again, assisted by Chayse Woods.
In the third period, “Hat Trick Higgs” scored again, assisted by Carson Frasier. The Muskoka Rock had scoring chances of their own but Otters goalie, Fletcher Elliott, turned away every attempt on goal. With about nine minutes remaining in the game the Otters offense exploded with four goals in 59 seconds! Avery Shirtliff scored unassisted, followed by a pair of goals from Dylan Bennett, the first assisted by Carter Quinlan and the second unassisted. Avery then scored his second of the game, assisted by Dylan Bennett.
The relentless attack by the Otters continued as Quinlan scored the team’s eighth goal, assisted by Sterling Boothby. One minute later Bennett completed his hat trick on a goal assisted by Logan Sheppard. Frasier scored unassisted and then Shirtliff completed his hat trick on a goal assisted by Quinlan.
Despite facing an eleven goal deficit, and with only five minutes remaining in the game, the Muskoka Rock showed great sportsmanship, maturity and persistence. The Rock showed no sign of frustration and never gave up trying for a goal.
The Otters bench became entirely focused on protecting their goalie for the remainder of the game. Even with the Otters working in heightened defensive mode the Muskoka Rock offense managed to get themselves in position for a few mini breakaways and clean shots on goal. Elliott had the Otters net on lockdown and earned every bit of his shutout as he had to come up with brilliant saves right up until final buzzer.
It had been a long six weeks waiting to see the Huntsville Otters Aquadome novice rep team on home ice but the team gave fans far more than anyone could have expected: eleven goals, a hat trick of hat tricks and a shutout! Equally impressive was the effort and attitude of the Muskoka Rock who played hard and fair throughout the game.
The Otters capped off their memorable weekend at home with a 4-2 win on Sunday against the Penetang Flames.
The Huntsville Otters Aquadome novice rep team will be on home ice, the Canada Summit Centre, November 25 and 26 (1:40pm both days). Come join the Otter fun and cheer the team on!
Thank you to Boyd Otter of Shooting for the Stars for providing this article and photos. For more images from the Huntsville Otters Novice rep team game or for more information, visit the Shooting for the Stars website by clicking here.
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