Canucks double Falcons in opener
The Niagara Falls Canucks topped the St. Catharines Falcons 6-3 Friday at Jack Gatecliff Arena. PHOTO: SPECIAL TO BPSN.
Justin Kyle appears poised for a breakout season with the Niagara Falls Canucks.
The big winger collected four points as the Canucks doubled the St. Catharines Falcons 6-3 in the Greater Ontario Junior Hockey League, Golden Horseshoe Conference opener for both teams Friday at Jack Gatecliff Arena.
Kyle, who had 15 goals all of last season, potted a pair and also added two assists.
“It was good. I want to give credit to my linemates (Ben Evans, Mitch Mendonca),” Kyle said. “I expect to get better every year, and there’s always room for growth.
“You just have to keep going.”
Canucks coach Frank Pietrangelo is counting on Kyle to be a main cog in the offence.
“He was one of the most improved players (last year). He played on Frank Pucci’s line last year and was a big part of Frank’s success,” Pietrangelo said. “He’s our No. 1 guy on that first line and the power play.
“He’s a key guy to generate offence and do everything else.”
The Canucks set the tone, scoring just 28 seconds into the game.
“It was great to set the tempo and show the young guys on our team how fast-paced the game is and to get right in there and get going,” Kyle said.
And it didn’t hurt that the quick start came against the club many see as the top two contenders for the regular season title.
“It felt really good, especially against St. Catharines,” Kyle said. “They have a really good club over there and we found a way to battle at the end and get some goals.”
Kyle, Evans (2-4) and Mendonca (1-1) combined for five goals and 12 scoring points.
“When we knew our roster, I thought about maybe splitting them up, but I thought together they would be dynamic,” Pietrangelo said. “They key is you have to have other lines going as well.
“We need more from our other lines. We all know that.”
The teams traded goals in a pedestrian first period. Mendonca opened the scoring for the Canucks on the first shift of the game. Kyle West evened things up later in the period for the Falcons, who held a 14-4 edge in shots.
Action picked up considerably in the second period as the Canucks built a 4-2 lead before Mack Easter scored late in the period to bring the Falcons to within one. The Falcons held a 15-9 edge in shots.
The Canucks then put the game away with two more in the third.
In all three periods, the Falcons allowed a goal before the two-minute mark.
Falcons coach/general manager Frank Girhiny felt there were several positives for his club to build on.
“Five on five in the first two periods, if you look at the shots on net, I thought we did really well,” Girhiny said. “We didn’t capitalize on our opportunities.
“I liked our effort, but their power play (3-for-6) was a lot better than our penalty kill and their goalie made the saves he had to make.”
Girhiny is aware with so many new faces, it will take time for the roster to mesh.
“It’s a matter of them finding out who can do what. I expect a better effort Sunday. Overall, I don’t like the result, but we saw some positives.”
Falcon facts: Dakota Miskolczi, Brannon Butler and Perth Swick were scratched for the Falcons. Griffin Green and Ryan Carruthers did not dress for the Canucks . . . Noah Perlic (Falcons) and Ben Evans (Canucks) each received 10 minute misconducts for boarding in the first period . . . Canucks forward Patrick McCabe and Falcons defenceman Tanner Brown were both banished for head checks in the second. Falcons rookie Joe Colasurdo was given a five-minute major and ejected for a tripping major in the third.
Canucks 6 Falcons 3
BPSN Star of the Game: Niagara Falls winger Justin Kyle with four points.
For the St. Catharines Falcons: Kyle West, Jacob Roach, Mack Easter.
For the Niagara Falls Canucks: Kyle 2; Ben Evans 2; Mitch Mendonca, Dillon Hill.
Game stats: Shots on goal: By St. Catharines on Zach Moore 23, by Niagara Falls on Dillon Lamarche 36; Power plays: St. Catharines 1-for-5, Niagara Falls 3-for-6; Penalty minutes: St. Catharines 53, Niagara Falls 36.
Up next: The Falcons visit the Canucks Sunday at 6 p.m.
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