After a two week layoff to enjoy the Holiday season the Premier Division was back in action for their first games of the New Year. With just a few games remaining for each of the six teams and the standings separating second through sixth by only three points every game from here on in becomes a must win. Outside of the Orangemen, who have locked up the top seed and continue to dominate, the other five teams are fighting for every point on the way to the postseason. A win can move you up three spots and a loss will slide you down the ladder on the outside looking in. Other than making the post season I’m sure the number four seed and a date with the Orangemen must also be weighing on the teams minds as they hope to avoid the leaders in the first round. With the teams well rested and raring to go from their break here’s how Week 12 shaped up.
The Vaughan Pylons looking to secure a post season spot faced the North York Hitmen squad who were looking to tighten the standings. With the return of superstar Victor Azevedo to the lineup the Hitmen bolstered an already red hot squad. Both teams were tentative and the rust showed as many good scoring chances went unrewarded. With about five minutes left in the first the Hitmen scored three goals before the period came to an end. Kodi Hollingsworth, Peter Bello and Azevedo with just eleven seconds left in the period opened up a 3-0 halftime lead. The Pylons with Frankie Giustini and JK Gill can never be counted out of a game but Dave Clark got the better of them as he posts the shutout and Bello adds his second goal of the game to lead the Hitmen to a 4-0 win. The Hitmen with a game in hand play Sunday as they look to secure a playoff berth.
If there was ever a must win both the Toronto Thunder and Barrie Flyers were in that situation as they faced each other with a point separating them in the standings. A Thunder win would make for a tough battle for the Flyers to grab a post season spot. But a Flyers win could leap frog the Thunder and into a tie with the VRW who would face the Orangemen in the late game. Who would get the first break as the teams traded chances. The goalies would do their part and the game would remain scoreless at half. A late first period penalty by Giorgio Occhipinti would give the Flyers a break and Tyler Roache buries the PP marker to give the Flyers a 1-0 lead. Captain Danny Filice would draw his team even and we were back on level terms. The Flyers kept pushing and were rewarded with a James Reid go ahead marker and the Thunder had their backs against the wall. The final few minutes saw the Thunder pinned in their own zone by a ferocious forecheck by the Flyers and Pellicori never made it to the bench for an extra attacker. With only two games left the Thunder is in must win mode.
The Metro Orangemen and the Vaughan Red Wings both came into this game riding winning streaks. The Orangemen yet to be defeated in regulation and the VRW a modest three game winning streak clashed as the Wings looked to keep their playoff hopes alive. The offence of the Orangemen, one of the most potent in the sport today, scored a converted touchdown as they score seven times on route to a 7-2 victory snapping the VRW’s streak at three. Both Justin Cabral and Ricardo Pires score a pair to lead the Orangemen’s attack. The Wings find themselves in a dog fight for a playoff seed as the loss see’s the Flyers gain level ground with them. The Flyers with a makeup date versus the Hitmen on the weekend can go a long way with a victory pushing them up the ladder on the way to the playoffs. The Orangemen’s goal for the last week of regular season play is to stay tuned up, healthy and suspension free as they await an opponent for the first round.
The Vaughan Red Wings and Toronto Thunder squared off for a Sunday matinee affair. Both with one goal in mind, to win and inch closer to a playoff berth. The Thunder would strike twice in the first three minutes of the game as Dave McCarron and Garett Bamborough both bulge the twice. They would add two more before the half. So you think a four goal lead is enough to win a game, well think again, VRW would score four times in the first seven minutes of the second frame. So we have ourselves a good ole score fest tied at four. The Thunder would respond with five powerplay goals in the last eight minutes to make the final 9-5 and move tentatively into fourth spot.
The Barrie Flyers and North York Hitmen would play the second game of this Sunday afternoon. With a win the Hitmen would secure second place. The Flyers had other ideas as they need to win to take over the fourth seed. When the dust settles the Hitmen came away with a 3-1 victory on goals by Anthony Novia, Azevedo and Daniel McDonald. Roache would score the lone goal for the Flyers.
Three Stars of the Night
The third star is goaltender Ralph Pellicori from the Thunder as he goes 1-1 on the week to keep their playoff hopes alive.
The second star is goaltender Dave Clark from the Hitmen who gets two W’s and also posts a shutout.
And the first star is Ricardo Pires from the Orangemen who score two goals in another Orangemen victory.
Player of the Week
The player of the week with what may be the biggest goal of the season to date for the Barrie Flyers is James Reid. His goal lifted the Flyers to a 2-1 win over the Thunder. Congratulations James.