BY TERRY BRIDGE
WATERLOO – The Listowel Cyclones made a push in the final five minutes to make it a close game, but they ran out of time and lost 4-2 to the Waterloo Siskins on Sunday afternoon.
Connor Patton and Jacob Robitaille scored back-to-back goals to pull within two with 3:08 to play.
PJ Bridges stopped the other 38 shots the Cyclones (21-14-1) mustered to pick up the Greater Ontario Junior Hockey League victory at the Waterloo Memorial Recreation Centre.
“I can’t say we’re ever pleased when we lose, but the last six minutes we really started to play, but that’s got to come for 60 minutes,” Listowel head coach Jeff Flanagan said. “It wasn’t our night tonight – or today – we had a few good pushes, a lot of chances that we didn’t capitalize on. It wasn’t enough here.”
Christian Mroczkowski and Jacob Bonin, the second shorthanded, created a 2-0 lead in the second period.
Danny Hanlon and Bonin’s second of the game pushed the Siskins’ (18-4-4) advantage to four in the third.
The Cyclones were without captain and leading scorer Caleb Cameron. He watched the game from the stands with a broken finger suffered in Friday’s 6-4 victory in Listowel over the Kitchener Dutchmen.
Cameron had three goals – his team-leading 22nd, 23rd and 24th – and two assists in that game. Now he will be sidelined for a few weeks.
Listowel goalie Drew Reinhardt made 44 stops against Waterloo.
“Even though they scored four goals, I think Drew was pretty good tonight,” Flanagan noted.
Mroczkowski ripped a rebound past Reinhardt to open the scoring.
Soon after, Brandon Jones forced a turnover and sent the puck back to the point with three Cyclones stuck behind their net, and Bonin tossed a long wrist shot through.
The Siskins fired their head coach recently and new bench boss Brian O’Leary is still breaking his new team in.
Flanagan, who knows O’Leary, noticed a more persistent forecheck from the opposition.
“I know Brian’s a really good coach, I’ve known him a long time, so he’ll have good structure for them and is a good teacher,” Flanagan said. “I see them being a little more active on the forecheck since Brian’s been in, and working hard.”
A creative play made it a three-goal game two minutes into the third.
Mroczkowski lobbed a high backhand pass just under the score board.
It cleared the Listowel defencemen and landed in front of Hanlon with speed, and he finished the play with a shot off the far post.
Waterloo had a 1:38 five-on-three power play but couldn’t take advantage – neither club scored in their five chances – then Bonin potted his second at the midway point of the final frame.
Both Cyclones’ goals were scored on similar plays, jamming loose pucks with traffic in Bridges’ crease.
Otherwise he was steady all afternoon.
“[Bridges] finds ways to get in front of the puck, whether he’s playing on his back or he’s all over the net,” Flanagan said. “He’s good when he gets it in the middle of his body, he’s good at sucking up that puck and not giving up rebounds. He’s done well for them this year.”
Listowel is fourth in the Midwestern Conference, three points back of Elmira and three up on Waterloo.
Friday against the Dutchmen (18-14-4), two of Cameron’s markers came on the power play as the team went 3-for-7.
Patrick Bell had the other. Dylan Sayle and Colten Pickett scored at even strength.
The melee that cost the Cyclones’ their captain broke out at 11:36 of the third period. Clayton Greer and Matt Papineau of Kitchener, and Scott Pawson of Listowel were all ejected for fighting.
Listowel plays three times in the next week: Friday at home against the Elmira Sugar Kings (21-9-4), Saturday in Guelph versus the Hurricanes (6-31) – both games are at 7:30 p.m. – and Tuesday in Kitchener at 7 p.m.