Pat Payton, Gazette sports editor
LISTOWEL - Stratford Cullitons out-shot Listowel Cyclones in every period here Sunday afternoon, and 49-26 overall.
However, Cullitons scored just once in a 4-1 Midwestern Conference defeat to the Cyclones. Stratford coach Phil Westman said there was a fairly obvious reason for his team’s lack of goals.
“Their goaltending was all right, but we didn’t run any traffic to the net,” Westman pointed out. “I was disappointed that we had shots and I thought we went soft to the blue paint. We let them off the hook.
“It’s a rink where you have to get pucks to the net, and go hard for rebounds, and score that style of goal. I thought were a little hesitant on going there.
“I thought we out-played them most of the day, but I think our frustration over not scoring caused us to lose our intensity. In fact, I thought we lacked a little intensity most of the game. There’s a game plan that you have to execute there,” he added.
After centre Caleb Cameron put Listowel ahead 1-0 at 13:21 of the second period, Jared Culliton tied it just over three minutes later from linemates Ryan Watson and Shane O’Brien. For Culliton, it was his ninth point (including four goals) in the last five games.
Just 13 seconds later, Cullitons had a glorious chance to take the lead when two Cyclones received minor penalties at 16:49. However, the visitors failed to score on the full, two-minute 5-on-3 powerplay.
Listowel’s Patrick Bell fired what proved to be the winner on a powerplay at 2:30 of the third. Colten Pickett and Brett Thompson tacked on insurance goals just past the midway mark of the final frame.
Cyclones’ Drew Reinhardt (7-8-1) made 48 saves--including 33 over the last two periods--for the win. Nick Caldwell (8-5-2) took the loss.
Win streak snapped
Cullitons have now gained just one point (from a shootout loss) in two games with Listowel to date. Two of Stratford’s next five games are against the Cyclones.
Sunday’s loss also put a halt to Cullitons’ four-game winning streak. After weekend action, Stratford (11-9-3) sits in seventh place, but is just two points behind three teams--Waterloo Siskins (13-9-1), Listowel (13-10-1) and Kitchener Dutchmen (12-11-3)--and only five behind the third-place Elmira Sugar Kings (14-8-2).
Cambridge (15-8-2) is in second spot, but Winter Hawks have begun to stumble. They are 3-4-2 in their last nine games, including a 4-2 loss Saturday at home to the last-place Guelph Hurricanes.
Everyone is now chasing the first-place Caledonia Corvairs (17-6-3).
Stratford 6 - Brampton 1
On Friday night at the Allman Arena, Cullitons erupted for five goals in the third period, including three in less than two minutes, en route to a 6-1 victory over the struggling Brampton Bombers.
The win was Stratford’s fifth in the last six games. The victory in front of over 1,300 spectators was also Cullitons’ fourth straight on home ice, and they’ve allowed only seven goals against in those four games.
Bombers (6-16-2), meanwhile, are going in the opposite direction. They have now lost 11 in a row, and have collected just two points in that stretch--both from overtime defeats.
Flurry early in third
In Friday’s game, Cullitons held a slim 1-0 lead after 40 minutes. However, goals by Jared Culliton, Trevor Sauder and rookie Dylan Wettlaufer--in a span of 1:58 early in the third--put the home team firmly in control.
A shorthanded breakaway goal by Jake Ryan and another by Culliton made it 6-0 with just over five minutes to play.
“It hasn’t been a great season for me, but I’m starting to get it rolling,” the 20-year-old Culliton said. “Playing with Obbie (Shane O’Brien) and Watty (Ryan Watson) definitely helps; those guys know where to find me and they get the puck to the net.”
Brampton’s Michael Darrigo spoiled Nick Caldwell’s shutout bid with just 53 seconds left on the clock.
“I think we’re all a little frustrated giving up that late goal,” said coach Westman, who wasn’t pleased that his team allowed nine shots in the third.
“That was the goal in the last 12 minutes; I didn’t even want a shot on our net. We wanted to nail it down. We had a good opportunity to get a shutout tonight for Nick, who’s played pretty well.”
O’Brien, with his team-leading 13th goal, gave Stratford a 1-0 lead in the final minute of the first period. O’Brien also had two assists for a three-point night and the second-year winger leads the team with 28 points.
Overall, Cullitons out-shot the Bombers 50-22, including 20-9 in the third.
Stratford’s last loss at home in regulation time was back on Oct. 5, a 4-3 decision to Waterloo.
Upcoming: Cullitons have three games in a four-day stretch this week. They travel to Guelph Thursday to play the Hurricanes, host Cambridge Winter Hawks Friday, and head north to Listowel Sunday for a rematch.