Blackhawks fortunate to have Fortuna
It was a good night for Noah Fortuna, both on and off the ice.
The Thorold Blackhawks netminder was honoured before the game as the Golden Horseshoe netminder of the month for December, then went out and backed it up with a solid performance between the pipes.
Fortuna kicked out 34 shots as the Blackhawks topped the Hamilton Kilty B’s 5-3 in Greater Ontario Junior Hockey League, action at the Thorold Arena.
“It’s cool,” Fortuna said of the award. “Obviously, you don’t aim for those goals beforehand but it’s nice to know you are recognized.
“My team helped me a lot, too. I got goalie of the month but it was our whole team that backstopped us to a really good month.”
Fortuna turned in a consistent effort as the Hawks twice blew two-goal leads, only to rally with a pair of goals late in the third.
“Our D have been blocking a lot of shots. We’ve blocked a lot of shots tonight and that’s something we’ve been practising a lot,” said Fortuna, who turns 19 Feb. 4. “It makes my job a lot easier and the shots that do come through are a lot easier and the D are clearing them out.”
The win, following a 10-3 triumph at Buffalo Wednesday, moves the Hawks to within one point of the Kilty B’s for fourth spot and home-ice advantage in what looks to be a probable first-round matchup.
“That’s four wins against them this year,” Fortuna said. “That’s a really good note heading into the playoffs.
“They just got a couple of pretty good guys, but we know we can beat them. I think we’re better than them.”
Hawks coach Scott Barnes admitted the Hawks were looking at the standings before the game — a loss and Thorold would have fallen five points in arrears of Hamilton.
“I think both teams know we’re playing each other in the playoffs,” Barnes said. “It’s basically a battle for home ice now. For us, we’re basically trying to play the right way going in and at the top of our game going in.”
The Blackhawks led 2-0 after one and 3-1 after two. The Kilty B’s tied the game at 3-3 at the eight-minute mark of the third. Joel Chauvin’s second of the game with just under three minutes to play was the winner before the Hawks added an insurance marker into an empty net. Wednesday night at Buffalo, Brett Bressette had two goals while Mario Zitello, Cam Lightfoot, Chauvin, Owen Holmes, Nicholas Rubino, Trevor Neumann, Dylan Latty and Mitch Britton added singles.
Chase Grsic made 29 saves for the win.
Hawk talk: Ethan Mercer and Nick Gidney did not dress for the Hawks . . . Freddie Teeple and Justin Monteith were scratched for the Kilty B’s.
Hawks 5 Kilty B’s 3
BPSN Star of the Game: Thorold goalie Noah Fortuna with 34 saves.
Thorold Blackhawks: Dylan Scriver 2 (19, 20); Joel Chauvin 2 (10,11); Nicholas Rubino (18).
Hamilton Kilty B’s: Nolan Slachetka 2 (16,17); Adam Clark (2).
Game stats: Shots on goal: By Thorold on Matteo Drobac (41), by Hamilton on Noah Fortuna (37; Power plays: Thorold 1-for-6, Hamilton 0-for-4; Penalty minutes: Thorold 8, Hamilton 12.
Up next: The Hawks are home to Welland next Thursday.
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