CALEDONIA – Unlike in some Pro-fit Caledonia Corvairs teams of recent seasons where winning was almost a given, this year’s team is finding it a harder go, with more of a “lunch-bucket crew” with no real stars but a lot of heart.
“We are not the high-flying team we had last year,” says coach Mike Bullard. “We have to work hard for what we get.”
Case in point was Thursday night’s 6-5 OT win over the Ancaster Avalanche, Saturday night’s 2-1 win over the Welland Canadians at the Haldimand Centre Arena, and Sunday’s 6-3 come-from-behind win Sunday in Welland.
Coach Mike Bullard and GM Brian Rizzetto have had a very busy summer and training camp as they looked over a brand new generation of Corvairs for the 2016 to 2017 Greater Ontario Junior Hockey League, Jr. B’s, after loosing most of last year’s Sutherland Cup team to overage or defection.
Although the overall talent he has to work with this year is a few points weaker, Bullard has a way of pulling together four lines all capable of turning on the light at any moment.
“I believe you have to have depth, attacking in waves,” says Bullard. “You can only do that with four balanced lines.”
As with most teams, there are still cards left for players as the season goes on. But what they have today is a much different group of guys than what they have had in the past number of years. Kudos to Bullard and his bench staff who have crafted a pretty darn good team into a very good team as they ride the crest of the Golden Horseshoe Division with a 24-3-1 record after Sunday’s clash with the Welland Canadians in Welland.
After a scoreless first period, the Canadians watched a 3-1 lead evaporate into a 6-3 Welland loss when the Pro-Fit Corvairs rallied scoring a string of five unanswered third period goals.
Coming through for Caledonia with goals were Zach Core, Evan Bidenti, Christian Papineau, Guy Polillo, Marino Moro, and Adam Craievich.
The St.Catharines Falcons have been winning as well and remains four points behind in second place, however, the Corvairs have played two more games.
Thursday night it took two overtime periods to defeat the Av’s at the Morgan Firestone Arena.
Ancaster took a quick 2-0 lead by the five-minute mark of the opening period with goals scored by Av’s Owen Burnell and Zach Bramwell. That lead was erased by Brandon Lindberg with a powerplay goal followed by Ryan Punkari’s shorthanded tying tally at 18:40. With a minute left in the period, Dustin Burr returned the lead to Ancaster.
Bramwell scored his second of the night for Ancaster, short handed and unassisted, before Zachary Core took advantage of an Ancaster penalty to score a second powerplay goals to end the second frame with Ancaster ahead by one.
Nicholas Breault’s early third period goal restored the Av’s two-goal advantage. Once again the Corvairs took the mater in hand and the lunch bucket gang went to work to undermine the Ancaster lead. Trent Mallette, formerly of the Jr. A Soo Greyhounds, evened the score for the Corvairs.
Nothing was defined after the first OT period but at 4:37 of the second OT, Adam Craievich ended the evening from Joshua DeFarias and Brandon Lindberg for the two points.
Caledonia’s goaltending duties were shared between starter Mackenzie Savard and Daniel Chenard who finished the game and took the win.
“Everyone is stepping up,” says Bullard.
Saturday night was a nasty affair as the Corvairs and Welland Canadians quickly got under each other’s skin. Niagara Falls drew 59 minutes on 21 infractions while the Corvairs were guilty on 23 infractions for 74 minutes assessed.
Several fights and other aggressive penalties punctuated the second and third periods. On ice bouts included Av’s Owen Green versus Corvairs’ Christian Papineau while Holden Hrysko and Kurtis Henry paired off a few minutes later. The bad blood poured over into the third period and Alexander Gonyou and Av’s Jake Gilmour had a dance with both being assessed inciting an opponent penalties.
Two minutes later, Erik Nelson piled up a checking from behind major penalty plus a minor and a game misconduct for crosschecking, plus five for fighting and another game misconduct for fighting.
As far as the hockey game is concerned, there was no scoring in the first with Bailey Fletcher breaking the goose-egg for Caledonia at 2:23 of the third. Ryan Mooney tied the game two minutes later but Caledonia’s Adam Craievich fired home the game winner on a powerplay from Linsberg and Bindenti at 13:09.
This week’s only Corvairs game is a December 1st road trip to Thorold to face the Blackhawks. The Blackhawks have changed their logo from a less than complimentary caricature of an “Indian” to a much more acceptable profile of a profile of a hawk’s head wearing the coloured feathers of the Chicago Blackhawks.