There are still two Huntsville Otters minor hockey teams battling it out in their respective series for the OMHA Championships: the Armstrong Dodge Midget AE Otters and the Northern Upfitters Bantam Rep Otters.
The Armstrong Dodge Midget AE Otters have beaten two other teams who are competing for the OMHA Championship title.
After beating the South Muskoka Bears in game five of the first round in the playdowns, the Huntsville Midget AE team moved on to play the Ennismore Eagles in round two for a best-of-five series. The first two games were played in Ennismore on the first weekend of February. A close first game ended in a 1-0 win for the Otters, which was followed by another close win 3-2 on Sunday. “This set Huntsville up for a series-clinching game Friday night in Huntsville the next weekend. Despite the close first two games the third game in Huntsville was quite different ending with a 7-0 win,” said trainer Ethan MacKay.
“The series was once again highlighted by strong play from Aaron Maddock in net who had key saves, including stopping a breakaway Friday night that could have tied the game 1-1 in the first period,” he added.
The team demonstrated a full team effort with offensive contributions and immaculate goals. “Tyler MacKinnon shot right above the goaltender’s pad from the point and Clayton Digiacomo had a nice drive to the net finding the five hole, he also added a second with a quick snap shot over the goalie’s glove,” said MacKay.
The coaching staff agreed that the penalty killing throughout the games was an important aspect of the team’s winning strategy led by Wyatt Schurer, Dryden Williams, Clayton Digiacomo, and Alex Tone-Reid, and the defense Tyler MacKinnon, Kalvin Crozier, Riley Digiacomo, Nathan Decaro, and Ty Zanetti.
The Feb. 15-16 weekend was the start of the round three series for Huntsville against the Penetang Flames.
Saturday’s game one was a first for the Otters in these playdowns as they lost 3-1 to Penetang despite solid goal-tending by Aaron Maddock and a goal scored by Clayton Digiacomo. The team ran out of steam and struggled to find the energy and the ability to compete against the Flames.
Coaches Brandon Janke and Matt Young both felt like the team was just not quite prepared and did not have the right mindset. Janke described the discussion in the dressing room after the game as quite brief: “We mentioned the lack of energy and that we need to be ready tomorrow and get ready to compete. We were pretty sure the team knew what they lacked that game and did not need to reiterate it again and again.”
Game two saw the Otters come with their game faces on. It was definitely a different game with Huntsville responding to their coaching staff encouragement and displaying the understanding that was needed to change the outcome.
Captain Matt Clarke set the tone in the dressing room; Huntsville skated out with much better energy, ready to compete. The team fought hard even though they were down in the beginning, 1-0, but Huntsville finally beat the Penetang goalie in the third period.
“Alex Tone-Reid scored on a nice pass from Dryden Williams when they were able to find a three-on-one odd man rush,” said MacKay.
The Midget AE Otters played another close game that ended with a tie, leading to a 10-minute overtime period. “About four to five minutes into overtime, Alex Ascott scored after Alex Reid-Tone was able to knock the puck down out of the air and get it to Alex Ascott where he was able to go blocker side from the high slot ending the game,” MacKay said. Both teams are evenly matched in the series, 1-1.
“Even though some players did not show up on the game sheet their effort is what set the tone for the rest of the team,” he added. “Jesse Taylor and Danny Downing set the effort level for the team on the ice with great shifts all game with their speed on the forecheck and on the backcheck which created pressure all game. The game was anchored by defensemen Tyler MacKinnon, Kalvin Crozier, Riley Digiacomo, Nathan Decaro and Ty Zanetti who locked down Penetang’s offence along with forward Andrew Duke who was often found battling hard for pucks along the boards and Clayton Digiacomo who set a physical tone in the defensive end. Aaron Maddock was once again solid in net, keeping the team in the game long enough for them to tie it up and then win 2-1.”
The series between the Huntsville Otters and the Penetang Flames continues on home ice with game three this Friday, February 21, at 8:40 p.m. at the Jack Bionda, followed by game four at 4:40 p.m. on Saturday at the Jack. Game five takes the Otters back to Penetang on Sunday.
The Northern Upfitters Bantam Rep team began their series against the South Muskoka Bears in late January, playing five games with three home game wins, one tie and one loss which earned them the right to move on to round two.
The Otters travelled to Collingwood to face the Blackhawks on Feb. 15 where they played a close first game and took the win 4-3. Huntsville had a hometown crowd cheering them on for game two last Sunday, where they doubled the Blackhawks score 4-2 for a second win. The Bantam Rep team will be on the road again to play Collingwood on Friday, Feb. 21 and then back home to the Don Lough Arena on Saturday, February 22 at 2:10 p.m.
Come and cheer on your Huntsville minor hockey teams this weekend and show them some hometown support in their journey to the OMHA Championships. Go, Otters, go!
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