KITCHENER – Losing 2-0 leads twice, and being out-scored 7-1 in the second period.
That was the Stratford Cullitons’ story this past weekend as they managed just one point in two Midwestern Conference games.
Here Sunday afternoon at the Kinsmen Arena, the front-running Dutchmen erased a 2-0 first-period deficit with four unanswered second-period goals and then hung on for a 4-3 victory over the Cullitons.
The win improved Kitchener’s home-ice record to 10-0, and it was also the Dutchmen’s third straight one-goal victory over Stratford, which is now 3-4-2 on the road.
After weekend action, the first-place Dutchmen (14-3-2) have a five-point lead on Elmira Sugar Kings (12-3-1). Cullitons (9-5-3) sit in a fourth-place tie with Listowel Cyclones (10-7-1), with one game in hand.
On Sunday, goals by captain Trevor Sauder and Mitch Brooks (his seventh on a powerplay) staked Stratford to its 2-0 first–period lead. Sauder’s goal came just 20 seconds into the contest.
Special teams got the Dutchmen back in the contest as they grabbed a 3-2 lead before the second period was four minutes old.
Alex Demrovsky and Jordan Delaurier fired powerplay goals, and Demrovsky added a shorthanded marker just 34 seconds after the Delaurier goal.
Philip Moser scored what proved to be the winner at the 11:51 mark, and Kitchener took a 4-2 advantage into the final 20 minutes.
“Penalties again,” lamented coach Phil Westman. “We work hard, but we keep shooting ourselves in the foot with penalties. We’re up 2-0 and we let the other team back in the hockey game. We should be slitting their throats.
“I guess I have to be more mindful who I’m putting on the ice in key situations. We didn’t play too badly on the weekend, but we have just one point to show for it.”
Defenceman Joe Leahy pulled Cullitons to within a single goal midway through the third, but that’s as close as the visitors would get.
Stratford picked up 66 of the 100 penalty minutes assessed.
Overall, Cullitons out-shot the Dutchmen 38-30. Rookie Nick Redman (3-3-1) took the loss. He was pulled for an extra attacker with 1:26 remaining.
WATERLOO 5 – STRATFORD 4 (OT)
At the Allman Arena Friday night, Cullitons held a 2-0 lead midway through the game, but let it slip away and eventually dropped a 5-4 overtime decision to Waterloo Siskins in front of a Halloween Night crowd of approximately 1,000 spectators.
The two rivals went into the contest tied for third place. Cullitons’ home-ice record slipped to 6-1-1 with the OT loss.
Back-to-back penalties in the neutral zone—just over a minute apart midway through the second period—proved to be costly, coach Westman pointed out.
Siskins’ captain Christian Mroczkowski scored on the 5-on-3 powerplay at 11:23, and teammate Jordan Kreller tied it less than two minutes later.
Danny Hanlon then put the visitors ahead 3-2 with a shorthanded tally at 18:34.
“We let them back in the game with our penalties,” Westman said. “We had a bad second period; it was probably our worst period of the season. We were totally out of sync.”
Mroczkowski added his second of the night 22 seconds into the third to put Waterloo up 4-2.
Shane O’Brien led the Cullitons’ comeback charge. The veteran forward pulled Stratford to within a goal at 14:35, and then fired the equalizer on a powerplay with just 3:43 left in regulation. Rookie Jared Nash assisted on both.
The two goals give O’Brien a team-leading 10 to date, and moves him into the team points lead with 20.
“Credit to the guys, we battled back to make it 4-4 and get it to overtime,” coach Westman said. “I guess you can say we salvaged a point after being down 4-2 with 10 minutes to go.”
Siskins’ defenceman Eric Cimino fired the game winner just 19 seconds into extra time. It came after Cullitons iced the puck, and then lost the ensuing face-off in their own zone.
Rookie Hayden Broomhead, with his third goal in two games, gave Stratford a 1-0 first-period lead. Mitch Brooks made it 2-0 at 9:24 of the second. The winger finished the night with three points.
Moscow native Evgeny Kiselev earned the win, while Nick Caldwell (6-2-1-1) suffered the loss.
Upcoming: Cullitons’ Nov. 7-8 weekend is spelled B-r-a-n-t-f-o-r-d. They host the last-place 99ers (4-11) this Friday, and then travel to the Telephone City Saturday. Both games start at 7:30 p.m.
Coach Westman is at the ‘Big Nickel’ Midget tournament in Sudbury this week, and will miss one or both of the Cullitons’ games on the weekend.
On Friday night, Cullitons’ players will wear coloured warm-up jerseys prior to the Remembrance Day Service, conducted by the Stratford Legion.