BY SCOTT BRIDGE
SPECIAL TO BANNER SPORTS
Listowel had an uplifting road trip the previous weekend and looked to continue their winning ways on home ice where they held a 3-5 record. Cambridge was holding a three-point lead for first place in the Greater Ontario Junior Hockey League’s Midwestern Conference.
Listowel won 7-6 in a shootout.
Cambridge made a recent trade that brought goalie Lee Doherty over from Guelph. The Cyclones already had success against Doherty this season, beating him twice, but Friday was going to look a little different as he now had some scoring in front of him.
Speaking with Listowel coach Jeff Flanagan before the game, he said, “We want to go out there and play hard, we want to go out and hit with a purpose in the corner, not just to make noise. We don’t take many penalties and I am proud of my team for that.”
He is correct, as only three teams have taken fewer penalties: Port Colborne, Stoney Creek and Kitchener.
Both teams came out with fire lit under them, but Cambridge looked to be the bigger and faster team. They were winning battles in the corners, getting to loose pucks first and looked better all around.
Cambridge jumped out to a 1-0 lead on Cody Gratton’s 17th goal of the year. Gratton sniped his first goal glove side after he flew down the ice with a burst of speed.
Cambridge then took a 2-0 lead after Mitch Facey finished a nice shot going glove side on goalie Drew Reinhardt after a really hard cycle down low behind the net.
Before the buzzer ended the first period, Caleb Cameron, the captain of the ship, spoke up by netting his 11th goal of the year, and it helped him continue to climb into the top five in league scoring.
Cambridge started off the second with a bang as they took a 3-1 lead as Gratton scored his second of the game. Right after the faceoff, the puck took a bad bounce on Sam Harris, and Cambridge scored to make it 4-1. Cameron Pentsa made no mistake by taking advantage of the bounce.
Coach Flanagan then called a timeout to try and fix a few things.
There was some rough stuff and Patrick Bell was guilty for checking from behind. He was charged with a five-minute major and a game misconduct halfway through the second period.
Cambridge decided they would take action and started to take matters in their own hands by throwing a few fists. Listowel came out on top with the power play and decided to go to work. Jacob Robitaille scored on the power play and the team worked hard down low. Cameron picked up his second point of the game, Mac Nichol also with a helper.
The Cyclones were right back in this hockey game. The power-play fun was not over yet as Ben Shelley had a nice goal low blocker on Doherty to make it 4-3, another power-play goal.
Cambridge had been a team that was unbeatable with the lead this year, holding a record of 9-0 when leading after two periods. They jumped out of the gate and scored a quick goal 3:07 into the third period on the power play by Todd Bannerman as the Cyclones took an early penalty.
A 5-3 lead looked safe for Cambridge, but Colten Pickett put one home low blocker after the puck stopped rolling on him to beat Doherty to get the home team back within one goal.
Shelley then tied the game on the power play with Scott Pawson grabbing a helper 6:31 into the third. Pawson, who ended up playing a really solid game, is averaging around a point-per-game.
Cambridge decided to be a bit of buzz kill for the home crowd as they kept battling, and after some big saves by Doherty, Listowel took a penalty and Chris Taylor made them pay by scoring his fifth of the year, as Gratton picked up his third point of the game.
After a slew of penalties, the Winter Hawks had two five-on-threes they had to work with. Listowel’s penalty killing was working it though. Great defensive work by Sam Feagan made sure the score stayed 6-5 late in the game.
Reinhardt also stepped his game up halfway through, as he looked a little shaky off the start.
Listowel had a power-play opportunity late in the game and it seemed like do-or-die. Cameron went to work again as he stepped around two defenders in the corner as if he was stick-handling in a phone booth, feathered the puck over to Feagan who dished it to Tanner Mighton, and the blast from the point was tipped in by Robitaille.
The building was buzzing again and in the last minute Reinhardt stood on his head, making save after save.
Overtime solved nothing and this game went to a shootout. The Cyclones have a bit of practice as they won in Stratford the previous weekend in a shootout. Cameron went in with a burst of speed right to left, and as he was coming back to his left on the forehand tried his best to go five-hole, but Doherty made the save.
Gratten, the speedster with soft hands, went in with the Winter Hawks first chance and rang it off iron. Robitaille went in and made a beautiful move in tight and went top shelf to make it 1-0 Listowel in the shootout.
Hudson Michaelis had a chance to tie the game and made his way in on Reinhardt, but made one too many moves and failed to tie the game.
Pawson, who deserved to put the game on ice, had a chance to do so, twisting and turning, going one-on-one with Doherty, but was stopped.
It came down to Reinhardt and Maxime Lamontagne: a save and Listowel walked away with the win, a goal and the game continues. Reinhardt made the final save and the bench exploded.
Flanagan said, “Every time we got down, the guys battled back. They clawed, they bit, they scratched. Its tough giving a point away, but came through with a win.”
Listowel lost 7-2 in Elmira two days later. They host Lambton Shores on Friday, Nov. 9 at 7:30 p.m. and are in Chatham on Sunday.