BY DAN MCNEE
LISTOWEL – Sometimes a break in a hockey schedule can be an unwelcome halt to a team’s momentum, but in the Listowel Cyclones’ case, it might be exactly what the Junior ‘B’ club needs to get itself back on track.
Listowel (12-18-1) dropped its third and fourth straight GOJHL contests over the weekend, falling to the Cambridge Winter Hawks 3-2 on Friday at home before being handed a 6-3 setback to the Siskins in Waterloo on Sunday. The Cyclones have now only won two out of their last 11 games.
On Dec. 19 at the Memorial, Cambridge (15-13-4) took advantage of Listowel’s sluggish start as the Winter Hawks edged the Cyclones 3-2.
Cambridge got on the board early at 4:37 of the first, when Mitch Atkins was able to walk around the side of the Listowel net unchecked and roof a wrister over the shoulder of Ryan Hergott.
Multiple Listowel giveaways throughout the first half of the opening frame afforded the Winter Hawks several chances, including a shorthanded breakaway that Hergott was able to smoothly turn aside. Hergott made a number of nice stops in the early-goings to keep the game close.
“It’s a pretty big factor for sure,” said Cyclones co-captain Ben Shelley of his team’s lack of jump in the first period. “With a slow start, teams hop on you. It’s good that we found our legs in the second and third and we tried to fight back. We just couldn’t quite pop in another one.”
The Cyclones would show some life towards the end of the first, when Shelley sniped his sixth of the season short-side past Winter Hawks netminder Lucas Machalski. Wingers Jordan Caskenette and Garrett James assisted, with the line being Listowel’s best throughout the night.
Goals from Jordan Chard and Devin Snell would stake Cambridge to a 3-1 lead by the early third period. A pretty give-and-go between Kevin Gergely and Caleb Warren would result in Warren’s sixth goal of the campaign, but the Cyclones were unable to complete the rally.
“Our starts have to be better,” said Shelley. “We have to come ready to play and move our feet. We have to score some goals for sure.”
“(We need) a better start and a better finish too,” added Cyclones defenceman and alternate captain Brad Yowart. “You don’t want to end a game badly – I’d rather take a bad start than a bad end, but we have to work on playing a full 60 minutes.”
Hergott (5-11-1) made 20 saves in defeat, while Machalski stopped 27 shots.
Cambridge finished 1-6 on the power play, while Listowel went 0-1.
The loss dropped Listowel’s home record to 7-8-1 in 2014-15. The Cyclones have won only twice in the past two months in the confines of Memorial Arena.
SISKINS DOUBLE UP CYCS
Despite a spirited attempt by Listowel at a comeback on Sunday in Waterloo, three late unanswered goals by the Siskins resulted in the Cyclones’ fourth straight loss.
Waterloo (20-9-3) took a quick 2-0 lead by the six-minute mark of the opening frame following goals from Connor Bodnar and Gary Mantz. Cyclones defenceman Chad Lemire picked up his second marker of the season to cut the deficit to 2-1 by the end of the period, and by the end of the second Listowel had closed the gap again to 4-3 with the Siskins still in front.
But Bodnar’s second goal of the game at 16:36 sealed the victory for Waterloo. The Siskins would add an empty netter for the 6-3 victory, snapping a three-game losing streak.
Yowart (1) and Derek Elliott (16) also scored for the Cyclones. Caskenette continued his hot play as of late, chipping in a pair of assists. Caskenette now has a goal and three assists in his last four games.
Herrgott made 26 stops for the loss. Waterloo netminder Evgeny Kiselev made 28 saves for the win, his 14th of 2014-15.
Listowel remains firmly entrenched in seventh place in the Midwestern Conference heading into the GOJHL’s Christmas break. The Cyclones sit nine points back of Cambridge and nine points ahead of the eighth-place Brampton Bombers.
The Cyclones resume action on Friday, Jan. 2 with the first game of a home-and-home set with the Kitchener Dutchmen (23-6-2). Game time is 7:30 p.m. at the Memorial.