Blackhawks chase down a point
The Thorold Blackhawks can’t go wrong in net.
The Blackhawks possess one of the top goaltending tandems in the league in Noah Fortuna and Chase Grsic, and Friday night it was the latter’s turn to shine.
Grsic kicked out 46 of 47 shots as the Blackhawks rallied to tie the St. Catharines Falcons 1-1 in double overtime in a Greater Ontario Junior Hockey League, Golden Horseshoe Conference game at Jack Gatecliff Arena.
Grsic was particularly effective in key situations, making several game-saving stops.
“I felt really good,” he said. “The boys were buzzing.”
Grsic, a 17-year-old Hamilton native, had a strong showing in camp with Owen Sound of the Ontario Hockey League this season before being sent back to junior B.
“It was really good. I battled to the end but didn’t make it,” he said. “I just have work hard and put it in the past and keep playing the game and keep trying my hardest.”
Hawks coach Scott Barnes doesn’t take his netminding duo for granted.
“We have good goaltending. We had two really good guys,” Barnes said. “That’s two back-to-back strong games for Chase.
“It’s a pretty good luxury to have. Think we probably have the best tandem in the league. I don’t think anyone else can throw two guys out like that.”
Barnes has alternated his goalies through the first four games of the season.
“I told them both we’ll get you guys both going and then whoever is rolling. I’m sure both of them will have their spurts where they are the guy.”
At the other end, Falcons back-up Ethan Cook also turned in a solid performance with 39 saves. Cook is getting some extra playing time with starter Blair Coffin sidelined with a lower body issue.
“Ethan Cook played like he deserves to be here and he deserves to play against anybody in this league,” St. Catharines coach Tyler Bielby said. “For me, I want to take that as a positive and build some confidence for him.”
The Falcons held a 15-10 edge in shots after a ragged, scoreless first period.
Carson Edwardson finally broke the deadlock about halfway through the second when he whipped a wrist shot past Grsic from the slot for the lone goal of the period. The Hawks out-shot the Falcons 15-10.
The Falcons had a golden opportunity midway through the third to add to their lead when they had a two-man advantage for over a minute, but came up empty.
The Hawks pulled Grsic and tied the score at 1-1 with 1:46 remaining when Dylan Scriver’s blast from the point got past Cook.
“I was really hoping the boys would put one in and they ended up doing it,” Grsic said.
Nick Volpatti then had a point-blank opportunity with 17 seconds remaining for St. Catharines but Grsic came up big.
Bielby took little solace from the point earned for the tie.
“We have to find ways to close out a game,” he said. “It’s happened three times now and we haven’t found a way.
“We need to make sure we feel this as a loss, not as a tie. They scored a goal at the end of the period because we didn’t play with purpose.”
Bielby would also like to see more from his veterans.
“At the end of the day our 20-year-olds are going to win these games for us, tonight they didn’t.”
Falcon facts: Noah Blakely (suspension, 1 of 1), Blair Coffin (lower body) and Jake Orr did not dress for the Falcons . . . Thomas Lonsdale, Joel Chaven and Brad Ditillio were scratched for the Hawks . . . St. Catharines forward Xavier Drummond went off six minutes into the second holding his shoulder and crashing into the boards. He was able to return later in the period.
Falcons 1 Blackhawks 1 2OT
BPSN Star of the Game: Thorold goaltender Chase Grsic with 46 saves.
St. Catharines Falcons: Carson Edwardson.
Thorold Blackhawks: Dylan Scriver.
Game stats: Shots on goal: By St. Catharines on Grsic (47), by Thorold on Ethan Cook (40); Power plays: St. Catharines 0-for-7, Thorold 0-for-7; Penalty minutes: St. Catharines 46, Thorold 34.
Up next: The Falcons are off until Friday, Sept. 20 when they host the Caledonia Corvairs. The Hawks are home to the Welland Junior Canadians Thursday, Sept. 19.
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