BY DAN MCNEE
LISTOWEL – All good things must come to an end.
In the Listowel Junior Cyclones’ case, things perhaps came to an end much sooner than the team deserved.
After falling behind 3-1 in its opening round GOJHL quarter-final series, Listowel was unable to right the ship against the Kitchener Dutchmen, falling in six games on Friday night at Memorial Arena.
“It was very hard fought,” said Listowel captain Caleb Cameron following the game. “Obviously some of the games we didn’t do what we wanted to do. Kitchener played a hell of a series.”
The Dutchmen won all three games played in Listowel, while the Cyclones took two of three on Kitchener ice – both 3-2 victories in games one and five, respectively. The Cyclones look poised to push the series to seven but ultimately couldn’t solve Dutchmen goaltender Marc Williams (4-2), who posted a 1-0 shutout in game six.
“Tonight we had some great chances, but Williams played well,” said head coach Jeff Flanagan. “We didn’t score.”
Kitchener’s Keli Grant potted the game’s only goal with two minutes left in the first period. From there on it was truly a goaltending duel, with Cyclone netminder Drew Reinhardt (2-4) doing everything possible to keep his team in it, making 40 saves.
“We battled hard the whole series,” said Reinhardt, who put up a 3.07 goals against average and a .913 save percentage in the playoffs. “We probably didn’t get all of the bounces we deserved. There were a lot of times where we should have scored but we didn’t – it’s not that we didn’t try hard – it’s just that maybe it wasn’t our series.”
Listowel’s best opportunity came with under a minute left in the third, when Kitchener was assessed a too many men penalty. A mad scramble with time expiring saw the Dutchmen clear the puck and advance them into the Midwestern Conference semifinals where they will meet the Cambridge Winter Hawks.
“We didn’t get the scoring that we needed,” said Flanagan of the series. “Every game this season, we were in the game early and we played very well.
“This time around when we had the opportunity to score, we didn’t capitalize.”
As Kitchener celebrated its series victory, the Cyclones did not hang their heads. Flanagan and his staff gathered their troops at the opposing blueline and praised their efforts on what was truly a season of highs and lows before shaking the visitors’ hands.
“They did everything that we asked of them this year,” said Flanagan. “They were at the rink, they were having fun. They worked their arses off, they really gave it everything they had.”
The Cyclones will be sporting a very different look next year, as five of its mainstays have been confirmed to be leaving the team to pursue their educations. Jacob Robitaille, Patrick Bell, Tyler Crawford, Jesse Parker and Cameron will all be moving on.
“It’s the same every year in the level below the OHL and Major Junior,” said Flanagan. “You never know who’s going to be back. They’ll still be playing junior hockey, but they’ll just be too far away to play for Listowel.”
“The fans – it’s such a community-run team,” said Cameron of what he will remember most about playing in Listowel. “Everyone rallies behind you. There’s such good fan support, it’s amazing. It’s a world class organization.”
Coach Flanagan also had nothing but good things to say about the club and his players when reflecting on his first year as the Listowel bench boss.
“They are an excellent group of fine young men,” he said. “We had goals on the ice and goals off the ice.
“Everyone was here for the right reasons – everyone was here because they wanted to be a Listowel Cyclone.”