BY DAN MCNEE
GUELPH – Although they may not have got the revenge they were looking for versus Elmira on Friday night, the Listowel Cyclones still had a productive weekend, picking up three out of a possible four points.
Listowel (6-2-1) fell 3-2 in a shootout to the visiting Sugar Kings (6-2-0) on Oct. 3, as the teams met for the first time since Elmira’s one-sided 8-2 victory on Sept. 14. The Cyclones followed up with a decisive 5-1 win over the Guelph Hurricanes (3-4-1) on Saturday.
Cyclones co-captain Derek Elliott kept up his torrid scoring pace on Friday, potting the team’s two goals in what is traditionally always a high-tempo, physical affair between the two Line 86 rivals. The right winger now holds the Greater Ontario Junior Hockey League lead in goals (10) and is second in points (15) in eight games played.
Elliott opened the scoring at 14:17 of the first after his initial shot was stopped by Elmira netminder Jonathan Reinhart. Linemate Ben Van Ooteghem picked up the rebound at the side of the net and nearly snuck it past the sprawling goalie, but after the shot trickled off the post Elliott was there to slap it in.
“Vanno (Van Ooteghem) and (Tim) Nauta seem to find me pretty consistently,” said Elliott, a second-year junior from Staffa.
“They usually just throw it on net and I crash the net hard, and good things happen.”
The Kings got the equalizer only 48 seconds into the middle frame, when Ethan Skinner snapped a high shot from the shallow slot, beating goaltender Ryan Hergott glove side. Elmira would take a 2-1 lead seven minutes later when a Listowel giveaway at its own blue line resulted in a goal from Klayton Hoelscher.
The Cyclones were not short on their own chances in the second period, but were unable to solve Reinhart a second time. Listowel outshot Elmira every period and 32-19 overall in the game.
“They were missing bodies and we had opportunities and just didn’t finish, didn’t bury it,” said head coach Jason Brooks. “Ultimately that’s what cost us. We had two mistakes in the second period where we fell asleep and didn’t do our jobs defensively and it came back to bite us with those two goals.
“Overall, I thought we played a pretty good hockey game, we did some good things. Give them credit – that’s an elite team that’s missing bodies and they came in here, which is a tough place to play, and they played a good hockey game.”
With Broedy Karelse in the box for a questionable goaltender interference minor seven minutes into the third, Elliott stole the puck in the neutral zone, streaked in on Reinhart alone and beat him with a slick, backhanded deke to draw Listowel even. It was Elliott’s first shorthanded goal of his junior career.
“The room was pretty amped up before the game,” said Elliott. “We definitely did not want to go out there and let them pound away on us again. We had everybody on board tonight and had a good push for a win, but came up short.”
Listowel came up big on the penalty kill late in the third, and also had a couple huge shot blocks from Ben Shelley and Blake Nichol in the dying minutes to ensure the game went to overtime. With the extra five minutes solving nothing, Skinner was the only player to score in the shootout for either team as the Kings picked up the win.
The Cyclones once again struggled with the man advantage, going 0-6. Listowel is last in the Midwestern Conference with five power-play goals scored.
“You come up with plays, you draw them up, and they have to execute and make them happen,” said Brooks of his team’s inability to score with the man advantage. “We get the puck to the point, pucks to the net, pucks to the slot and pucks to the net…their goalie made a couple fantastic saves on the power play. Very easily we could have got two power-play goals tonight if those pucks bounce in.
“It’s disconcerting – it would help us because we’ve been pretty good discipline wise. When you’re not making teams pay for their penalties, it does get frustrating. It is what it is; you can’t beat a dead horse. You just have to keep working at it and eventually things are going to fall in.”
Hergott made 17 saves as Listowel lost its first home game of the season.
Reinhart stopped 30 shots and former Cyclones blueliner Sam Harris picked up an assist in his return to Memorial Arena.
CYCLONES STORM HURRICANES
Listowel was able to make good on its first trip to the Sleeman Centre in 2014-15, as the Cyclones topped the Guelph Hurricanes 5-1 on Saturday night.
Nauta (5), Karelse (2), Shelley (1), Kevin Gergely (2) and Elliott (10) each potted goals in an impressive road showing for Listowel. Chayse Herrfort had two helpers and Elliott added an assist as the Cyclones improved their road record to 3-2-0.
Backup goaltender Tyler Fassl (3-0-0) was again solid in net for Listowel, turning aside 26 shots. Fassl has four goals allowed with a .949 save percentage in the three games he has played this season.
Liam Devine made 26 saves in a losing effort for the Hurricanes. Craig Martini scored Guelph’s only goal, a power-play marker late in the first period.
Listowel completes the home-and-home set against the Hurricanes this Friday, Oct. 10 at Memorial Arena. Puck drop is at 7:30 p.m.
The Cyclones travel to St. Catharines on Oct. 11 to participate in the annual GOJHL Showcase. Listowel will face the St. Thomas Stars at the Seymour Hannah Sports Entertainment Centre (Rink #1) at 5:30 p.m.