Week one of the Premier season opened with a slew of surprises and last minute games. As has become the norm with these Premier teams they are always set to stun or amaze you when the ball hit’s the floor. So with the start of another Premier season comes another four months of stat watching, debate and excitement so for all of you around the province and country here is a recap of the opening week fixtures in the Premier division.
Let’s start with the North York Hitmen, the reigning Fall Champions and Pre Season Champions. The Hitmen are gunning for the trifecta of Premier Championships. In my ten years as Commissioner I can’t recall a team winning all three Premier events in succession. Can the Hitmen be the first club cementing their spot as a true power house in the sport? Well the season hasn’t quite started the way head coach Angelo Gaetano and GN Pat Ventullo had hoped for. With two super tough match ups in the opening week facing the defending Champion Brampton Express and the Mississauga Hawks the task at hand would test the young Hitmen of both mental and physical fortitude. The Express after a dismal performance in the PST rebounded as David DiGironimo posted the shutout and the Express escaped with a hard fought 2-0 victory. The Hitmen looked to shake of the opening night loss and travelled to Cawthra Arena to face off against the Mississauga Hawks. The Hawks also losers in their first game made this almost a must win for both teams. A tight checking affair ended in a 2-2 draw. The Hitmen would level the score as Jonathan Porier scores his first of the season. The dreaded shootout would be needed to secure the extra point and a Sami Choudhry goal in round seven earned the Hawks the two full points. The chase for the trifecta is on. The question is can the young Hitmen outlast the other seven contenders?
Championship aspirations are always at the top of the list for Mississauga Hawk GM Gurgeet Gill, the consummate optimist the Hawks will be contenders year after year. After a long off season and a sluggish start to the PST the Hawks looked to be gaining steam. A semi-final overtime loss in the preseason to the eventual Champion Hitmen had given the club a taste of what the team could accomplish when they floor a full lineup. Opening night didn’t turn out quite the way the Hawks had envisioned as they ran in to the offensive juggernaut that will be the Toronto Thunder. The game would see the clubs trade three goals each in the first twenty minutes and the goal feast was on. To the Hawks credit they would even earn an early 4-3 second period lead. The wheels just seemed to fall off from there as the Thunder would score five straight goals to eventually win the game 8-4. A huge night from rookie sensation Marcel Mallais saw the youngster register a seven point night scoring five times. Line mate Paul Duarte had a five point game and the deadly twosome racked up twelve points between them. The Thunder with the likes of Jeff Wilson, Chris Monaghan and Massimo Principe added to Duarte and Mallais watch out for the Thunder’s offence as they will be able to score goals in bunches.
The Barrie Flyers in their debut to the summer Premier Division came away with an opening night home floor victory over the Vaughan Red Wings. This young energetic club will run all night long and the star presence of Randy Kelly and Brian Mcnellan will give them the offensive punch to win tight games. After opening up a 3-0 lead on their visitors the Wings responded with three goals of their own as Paul Palermo with a pair leveled the score a three’s. A Scott Robertson goal would prove to be the winner as the home town Flyers gained the W in their opening game 4-3. Making the trip to Mississauga the Flyers were looking to go 2-0 to open the season. Only problem there was the Brampton Express stood in their way. The Express would open up a 4-0 lead and never look back as they come away with a 4-1 victory. The Express behind Chris Morrison Jr who notched a goal and assist in the contest opened the defence of their 2013 Premier Championship with a 2-0 record to start the season.
With the Pylons becoming the Vaughan Sharks it was opening night for this newly promoted club as well. With the likes of Giustini, Caputi, Martello and Rita leading the way offensively this club should be able to fire with the best of them in the Premier Division. Their first regular season game saw the two Vaughan entries battle as the VRW were looking to rebound from their opening road defeat in Barrie. As per his normal day at the office Shark leader Frankie Giustini puts up a four point night as he scores an opening night hat trick. Line mate Luca Caputi earns three points and they overshadow a four point game from VRW sniper and Team Italia member Anthony Luciani defeating the Wings 7-5. Goaltender Alex Liakopoulos earns the victory and the Sharks are off and swimming!
The last of our eight teams to hit the floor to open the season were the silver winning summer finalists the Metro Orangemen. Two overtime losses to the Express in the finals last summer have left the Orangemen with the knowledge that they were a bounce or two away from being crowned Champions. Their opening night contest was an interesting one as the young Sharks fresh off an opening night victory would face their toughest challenge to date. Arguably the best game to date the teams were deadlocked at one after one period as Chris Creador for the Omen and Ryan Tremmel for the Sharks each scored for their respective clubs. The game would remain tied for the majority of the second period and a shootout seemed like a good possibility. The Orangemen with less than four minutes to play exploded in a one minute span as Glen Bradbury, Ricardo Pires and Chris Cerqueira would blow the game wide open. Make the final 4-1 Orangemen and the season was off to an amazing start.
Week 1 Three Stars
1. Marcel Mallais (Thunder) - a seven point opening night
2. Frankie Giustini (Sharks) - hat trick earns club victory
3. Sami Chaudhry (Hawks) - shootout winner
Week 1 Top Goaltenders
1. David DiGironimo (Express) -2-0 and a shutout
2. Chevy Platt (Thunder) - new uniform same great goaltending
3. Alex Liakopoulos (Sharks) -1-1 record and numerous outstanding saves