BY DAN MCNEE
CAMBRIDGE – The Listowel Cyclones have gotten the start they had hoped for in the pre-season, as the Junior ‘B’ squad picked up a pair of wins over the weekend against two Midwestern Conference heavyweights.
Listowel edged the Kitchener Dutchmen at home on Friday night 2-1, then followed up with a 4-1 win on the road in Cambridge on Saturday. The Cyclones improved to 3-1-0 on their 2014-15 GOJHL regular season, and moved up into fourth place in the Midwestern standings.
On Friday at Memorial Arena, the Cyclones rode a two-goal performance from Palmerston’s Chayse Herrfort and a 29-save outing from Ryan Hergott to hold off a third-period surge from the Dutchmen.
“We fought tooth and nail; we got a couple of breaks,” said head coach Jason Brooks. “For the most part, for 60 minutes, we played pretty sound, solid hockey. It was a very good hockey team we just played, but we found a way and dug deep.
“We had some great blocked shots and Hergott made some huge saves.”
A quiet first period was highlighted by Herrfort’s first career junior goal at 11:21, when the 16-year-old slapped home a big rebound after Caleb Warren’s initial shot was turned aside by Kitchener netminder Jackson McIntosh.
Herrfort would pot his second and the eventual game winner nearly five minutes into the third, after taking a centering pass from linemate Blake Pickering and snapping it top shelf over the shoulder of McIntosh. Warren again assisted for his second helper of the game.
“It feels great,” said Herrfort of his first junior tallies. “In the end I was just happy that our team could get the win.”
Herrfort and Warren now have three points apiece through four games, and their chemistry on the third line with Pickering (two assists) has been evident since the season opener on Sept. 12.
“They’re hockey smart,” said Brooks of his third line. “They compete, they skate well. But the hockey sense is what I really like about them. Things we work on in practice and the things we try to teach, they’re buying into. Because of that, they’re having success.”
The Dutchmen were finally able to get on the board at 6:13 of the third, when captain Jordan Delaurier snuck one through Hergott on the power play.
Listowel was once again held scoreless with the man advantage, bringing their season total to a dismal 1 for 34. However, the Cyclones have been excellent preventing power-play goals, permitting only two through four games.
“It’s going to be a learning curve all year,” said Brooks. “This is a young group, and tight games are something that maybe last year this team wasn’t accustomed to, and when they were they didn’t seem to go their way.
“It was a team effort and team win. What I’m most proud of is the response from last weekend, when we got bombed in Elmira [an 8-2 loss] to come back in here, play a good hockey team and find a way to win.”
Listowel kept its momentum going into Saturday night’s contest in Cambridge at the Galt Arena Gardens, topping the Winter Hawks 4-1.
Tim Nauta scored his second of the campaign into the empty net, Chad Lemire had two assists and Kevin Gergely, Blake Nichol and Broedy Karelse each had their first goals of the season to lead the Cyclones offensively. Sauble Beach native Tyler Fassl saw his first action of the season in the Listowel goal, turning aside 21 shots for the win.
Owen Savory made 29 saves at the other end, while Maxime Lamontagne had the lone goal for the Hawks.
Listowel hosts the undefeated Waterloo Siskins (4-0-0) at Memorial Arena this Friday, Sept. 26 at 7:30 p.m. The Cyclones also travel to Brampton (0-4-0) on Sept. 28 and Kitchener (1-1-1) on Sept. 30, respectively.