Never give up!
That seemed to be the rallying cry for St. Marys Firefighter ‘BB’ Peewees in their opening game of the OMHA playoffs Monday night at the Pyramid Rec. Centre.
Scott Taylor’s Firefighters battled back from 3-2 and 4-3 third-period deficits to gain a hard-fought 4-4 tie with Strathroy Rockets.
It was a good, fast-paced, entertaining game, with chances at both ends of the ice.
Firefighters, Rockets and Dorchester Dragons are playing a home-and-home, round-robin series with the top two teams (best records) advancing to play a series.
“I was thrilled; we didn’t quit tonight,” said coach Taylor, who was pleased that his team played hard to the final buzzer.
“I actually used the Green Bay Packers’ analogy and told the boys that the Seahawks played to the end. In sports, it’s not over until it’s over.”
Taylor was referring to the NFL playoff game on Sunday where Seattle Seahawks trailed by 12 points late in the contest, but pulled out a thrilling overtime victory.
Captain Lake Taylor was a sparkplug for St. Marys with a pair of goals, including the late equalizer.
Taylor opened the scoring from a scramble at 1:13 of the first period. Blake Boreham assisted.
The home team had another great chance late in the opening frame. Ben Martens broke in, but couldn’t get the puck past the Rockets’ netminder.
Four minutes into the second, Curtis Topp skated in alone, but also couldn’t add to the Rock’s lead.
At the other end, every time Firefighters got into trouble goalie Alex Martens bailed his team out with a save.
With 1:17 left in the middle stanza, Rockets finally tied it on a powerplay. However, just 11 seconds later, Ben Martens put St. Marys back in front as he broke in and deked the Strathroy goalie for a pretty goal.
Just 1:45 into the third, Rockets scored again on a powerplay to tie it 2-2.
Goaltender Martens then made a breakaway save with 8:25 remaining, and two more point-blank stops in the next 20 seconds.
With 6:02 left to play, Strathroy took advantage of a turnover to go in front 3-2. However, it took exactly 30 seconds for Firefighters to tie it. Eric Taylor centred a nice pass to Aidan Aarts and he neatly picked the corner with 5:32 remaining.
Rockets again took the lead with 3:10 left.
With just 1:29 remaining, the Rock forced a turnover in the Strathroy zone. Driving hard to the net paid off for captain Taylor as he gathered up a loose puck and then deked the sprawling Strathroy goalie. Topp assisted.
The excitement wasn’t over yet, however. With just 27 seconds left on the clock, Martens was forced to make a huge stop in close to preserve the tie. It was a game-saving stop!
“I was real happy, the kids played well,” coach Taylor continued. “What I liked tonight was our compete level, and I’ve also been stressing that everything, like passes, be quicker.”
In Shamrock games against Strathroy and Dorchester this season, Taylor noted that all games were decided by just a single goal.
“I actually told the boys, skill for skill, we’re no better or worse than the other two teams. It’s going to come down to heart.”
The two top teams advance, but there’s no tie-breakers or overtime during the round-robin format.
The Firefighter Peewees’ next playoff game is Tuesday, Jan. 27 in Dorchester at 7:30 p.m. They play the Dragons at home on Feb. 2 at 8 p.m.