BY DAN MCNEE
LISTOWEL – Sloan had barely been off the stage for 12 hours following their headlining Paddyfest concert at Memorial Arena when the Listowel atom rep Cyclones took the ice for Game 1 of their OMHA finals series against the Simcoe Warriors.
And not one to waste the quick tear-down efforts of the Listowel Kin Family, the Atom Reps made the most of home ice advantage and soundly beat the Warriors 3-1 on Sunday afternoon to take a 1-0 lead in their first to six points series. The victory runs the Cyclones’ OMHA post-season winning streak to 10 games, with their last loss dating back to Feb. 4, a 2-1 setback to the Kincardine Kinucks.
“We knew it was going to be a good series – they’re a great team, they’re in the All-Ontario finals for a reason and so are we,” said head coach Jason Brooks. “They’re a team that battles hard, they’ve got some offensive power. We have to play good defensive hockey if we’re going to beat them, and we did that for the most part today.
“But it is just one game. It’s good that we got one but we’ve got to look for two more now.”
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Both sides refused to give up much breathing room in the first period, and brought a scoreless draw into the second. Listowel defenceman Jordan Alexander finally broke the tie just over seven minutes into the frame, when his seeing-eye wrister found its way through everyone from the point and past the Simcoe netminder. Colin Williams drew the lone assist.
The Cyclones increased their lead to 2-0 a few minutes later when centre Carter Servais turned a Simcoe defenceman inside out, broke in alone and scored with a pretty short side wrist shot. Carter Coombs and Tayttum Bramhill picked up helpers on what would ultimately prove to be the game-winning goal.
The Warriors got on the board with just under seven minutes remaining in the third period, when Simcoe forward Keegan Damota walked into the slot and beat Listowel goaltender Joshua Jacklin with a high shot.
“Nerves are always going to be a factor,” said Brooks. “But if we just play our game we’re a tough team to beat. At times we got caught standing still and at times they exploited that.”
But Coombs would put the game away only 20 seconds after the Simcoe tally on an Owen Schouten setup.
“We just have to keep doing the same things and sticking to the plan,” said Brooks. “Hopefully we’ll come out with the same result.”
The Atom Reps travel to Simcoe for Game 2 on Saturday, March 22 for a 12:30 p.m. start. Listowel returns home for Game 3 at Memorial Arena on Sunday, March 23. Game time is 3 p.m.