Pat Payton, Sports Editor
As expected, Stratford Cullitons signed a third goaltender last week for insurance purposes.
Local 17-year-old prospect Spencer Marsh was Cullitons’ back-up goalie for their two Midwestern Conference games this past weekend. Cullitons needed another puck-stopper when No. 1 netminder Nick Caldwell left the Sept. 21 game against Cambridge with a shoulder injury.
Caldwell, who turns 18 later this month, practised with the team last Wednesday, but watched on the weekend as Joe Metzger, 17, got the starting nod.
“I fully expect Nick to be ready to play (this coming) weekend,” Cullitons’ director of hockey operations Jason Lott says.
Cullitons, meanwhile, played with 11 forwards and six defencemen in their home-and-home series with Caledonia Corvairs on the weekend. They had hoped to use one call-up from Mitchell Jr. ‘C’ Hawks Sunday in Kitchener, but the game was called off because of a “water issue” at the rink.
• Caledonia Corvairs (formerly Brantford Golden Eagles, the 2011-12 Midwest champs) have six returnees.
“We have a lot of new faces, but we’re happy with the team,” Corvairs’ GM Brian Rizzetto said following last Friday’s 4-1 win in Stratford.
“We feel we have two great 16-year-old this year, and they’re playing a lot for us. We’re also working on signing a couple of more players in the next few weeks. We’re looking at adding a little experience.”
One of those 16-year-olds, Connor Murphy, scored twice in a 5-2 Caledonia win over the Cullitons Saturday night.
• Cullitons’ coach Phil Westman likes the look of the Corvairs’ squad.
“They have a lot of good, small players, with a lot of speed,” Westman said last Friday. “You could see on the five-step races, they were winning them.
That’s where you have to win those puck battles, and Caledonia looked a little more determined tonight.”
• Is Cambridge the team to beat in the Midwestern Conference, assistant coach Mike Down was asked following a recent visit to Stratford.
“We’re not saying that,” Down replied quickly. “We heard that through the pre-season, but our goal is a top-four finish and home ice (advantage) in the first round of the playoffs.
“I think it’s going to be pretty tight in our league this year . . . a lot of parity.”
Winter Hawks have 16 returnees from last year’s fourth-place club (30-19-2).
“We’re going to have to work for our goals and spread our offence around a little bit,” Down added.
• Club treasurer Brian Hobson reports that the Cullitons have 777 season-ticket holders this season. Hobson is now in his 19th year as club treasurer.
• Former Cullitons’ winger Brad McClure (2009-12) has five points (including four goals) in eight games with the 7-1 Penticton Vees of the British Columbia Tier II Jr. ‘A’ Hockey League.
After the weekend, the 19-year-old Stratford native is tied for fifth in team scoring.
McClure had 45 goals and 78 points to lead Cullitons in scoring a year ago.