Falcons blank Corvairs in series opener
The Kid Line was front and centre for the St. Catharines Falcons Friday night.
Falcons coach Tyler Bielby put rookie sensation Luca Testa between fellow first-year players Noah Reinhart and Chris Reid and the early returns were impressive.
Testa scored a goal while the trio was the most dangerous forward unit all game as the Falcons blanked the Caledonia Corvairs 2-0 in the opener of their Greater Ontario Junior Hockey League, Golden Horseshoe Conference best-of-seven semifinal playoff series.
“Really proud,” Bielby said, when asked about the talented trio. “I thought Testa made a play in the second period that was all-world and from there you could just see his confidence come right up.
“With those three, there is a lot of talent and if they can make sure they get stuck in and play on the defensive side of the puck and take just as much pride keeping the puck out as they like to score, they’ll do a lot of damage down the stretch.”
Bielby had a simple answer when asked about putting the unit together.
“Let the kids go play,” he said. “That could change overnight but we thought there was a lot of hockey IQ and some guys who can bury (the puck).”
Testa, a 16-year-old Grimsby native, clicked immediately with Reinhart and Reid.
“I am with great linemates. They get me the puck and find me in open spaces so I couldn’t ask to be with a better group,” he said.
Testa appreciates the support of the veterans on the Falcons, who have welcomed him with open arms. Testa played four regular season games for the club as an associated player while suiting up with the Niagara North Stars.
“The guys are getting me up and getting excited,” he said. “There’s no place I’d rather be than here right now.
“I’m looking to go all the way with these boys.”
Testa didn’t look the least bit preoccupied despite the fact the Ontario Hockey League draft is next week and he is expected hear his name called, perhaps as early as the first round.
“You have to come to the rink and focus when I’m here,” he said. “Away from the rink, I’m taking the calls when I need to and I’m coming here ready to play when they need me.”
The victory was the eighth straight win for St. Catharines versus Caledonia this season after the Falcons swept the season series 7-0.
“I think it was really important, especially considering we had success against them this year,” Bielby said of getting off to a strong start in the seres. “We wanted to come into the playoffs and continue that success. It’s good for our confidence but this game is already behind us and we’re on to tomorrow.”
The Falcons showed some rust early after not playing for nine days.
“I thought our first period was one of the most tentative, worst periods we’ve played,” Bielby said. “I wasn’t happy with that first period at all but I thought (goalie) Andrew MacLean was the best player on the ice and he allowed us to find our legs and get going in the second and third.”
The Falcons were whistled for 14 of their 18 penalty minutes in the third period.
“We talk about discipline all the time and strong emotional intelligence and making sure they spend more time in the box than us,” Bielby said. “I wasn’t happy with way we went to the box in the third period.
“I can yell at the refs but at the end of the day they’re all penalties and we have to be smarter.”
Falcon facts: Cal Reesor, Matthew Stranges and Nate Robertson did not dress for the Falcons.
St. Catharines rookie Luca Testa.
Falcons 2 Corvairs 0
St. Catharines Falcons: Luca Testa (2); Nate Shirton (1).
Caledonia Corvairs: No scoring.
Game stats: Shots on goal: By St. Catharines on Ethan Langevin (38), by Caledonia on Andrew MacLean (22); Power plays: St. Catharines 0/3, Caledonia 0/4; Penalty minutes: St. Catharines 18, Caledonia 16.
Up next: Game 2 Saturday in Caledonia at 7:30 p.m. Game 3 Monday in St. Catharines at 7 p.m.
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