Falcons blank Panthers
Dylan Abbamont made the most of his only chance for a first impression.
The 18-year-old Burlington native netted a goal and an assist in his debut as the St. Catharines Falcons blanked the Pelham Panthers 7-0 in a Greater Ontario Junior Hockey League, Golden Horseshoe Conference game Friday at Jack Gatecliff Arena.
The win improved the Falcons record to 13-6-1-0 and moved them into third place by one point over the idle Hamilton Kilty B’s.
The Panthers dropped to 6-11-0-2.
Abbamont, who was picked up from Mellville of the Saskatchewan Junior Hockey League, was thrilled to be able to contribute right off the bat.
“It’s awesome, especially coming into an organization that’s a lot closer to home than I was before,” Abbamont said. “The boys were great helping come to a new team so it was easier to get going.”
Abbamont was familiar with the Falcons from his minor hockey days as well as being buddies with St. Catharines goalie Ethan Cook.
“I talked to him quite a bit and he told me he had nothing but respect for the team,” Abbamont said. “It was really easy for me to come and fit it.”
Abbamont, who is listed at 5-foot-7, 150 pounds, feels his skilled style is more suited to the GOJHL.
“It’s a little different league out there,” he said. “I think this suits my style a lot more. There’s more skill and a little bit more room to make plays.”
Abbamont admitted the deal took him by surprise.
“I was a little shaken at first — I didn’t expect to get traded — but Frank (Falcons general manager Frank Girhiny) texted me right away and put words into my mouth that I couldn’t say no to.”
Falcons coach Tyler Bielby has high expectations for Abbamont.
“I think he has a high skill set and he moves his feet well,” Bielby said. “The vision looks like it’s a top-six kind of thing. He has to work and contribute offensively for us. That’s what the expectation is for him.”
Abbamont’s arrival comes at the perfect time.
“Goals have been tough to come by, no question, especially our secondary scoring,” Bielby said. “It was nice tonight with two of our three top scorers out of the lineup to find a way to score seven.
“I’m happy with the offensive output considering we were missing a big part of our offence.”
The Falcons jumped out to a 3-0 lead in the first period on a pair of goals by captain Curtis Egert and one by Kyler Watson. St. Catharines outshot Pelham 12-5.
St. Catharines doubled their lead with three more in the second before adding one more in the third.
Cook kicked out 20 shots for the shutout.
“Structurally, there were times when we did things right and times when we didn’t,” Bielby said. “Status quo and getting comfortably are not OK, we have to get better every shift, even in a 6-0 game.”
Falcon facts: Carson Edwardson (suspension 1 of 2), Xavier Drummond (upper body) and Blair Coffin (lower body) did not dress for the Falcons . . . Bo Stevenson, Evan Gibbs and Alexander Page were scratched for the Panthers . . . A moment of silence was held before the game for Welland Junior Canadians AP player Liam Boverhof, who died earlier this week . . . The Niagara Falls Canucks (Brodie Thomas, Cody Wall, Ryan Donovan, Andrew Bruno) topped the Thorold Blackhawks (Ben Varga) in the only other game Friday.
Falcons 7 Panthers 0
BPSN Star of the Game: St. Catharines forward Nick Volpatti with a pair of goals.
St. Catharines Falcons: Volpatti 2 (7, 8); Curtis Egert 2 (13, 14); Kyler Watson (3); Michael Angrilli (3); Dylan Abbamont (1).
Pelham Panthers: No scoring.
Game stats: Shots on goal: By St. Catharines on Harrison Fleming/Nick McGowan (38), by Pelham on Ethan Cook (20); Power plays: St. Catharines 3-for-4, Pelham 0-for-4; Penalty minutes: St. Catharines 22, Pelham 62.
Up next: The Falcons visit Welland Sunday at 7:30 p.m. The Panthers are home to Buffalo Sunday at 2:30 p.m.
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