Falcons ready for Corvairs
The St. Catharines Falcons and Caledonia Corvairs square off for the Golden Horseshoe championship beginning Wednesday in Caledonia. Photo by: Spencer Smye (www.smyephotography.com)
The St. Catharines Falcons head into the Golden Horseshoe finals on a high.
The Falcons take on the regular-season champion Caledonia Corvairs beginning Wednesday in Caledonia on the heels of one of their most complete and impressive efforts in Game 7 of the semifinals versus Ancaster.
The Falcons, missing four of their top nine forwards due to suspension, turned in a dominating performance to advance to the finals for the sixth straight season.
“I feel really good,” St. Catharines general manager/coach Frank Girhiny said. “As a coach, that’s the best I’ve felt after a game. The focus of our players and the execution of our game plan, it just goes to show you if you have everyone buys in — and we had all 20 players buying in — you see the end result.
“To watch how we executed the game plan and played within ourselves, it was really satisfying and it’s exciting to get going now Wednesday.”
The Corvairs, meanwhile, have been sitting on the sidelines for a week after disposing of the Niagara Falls Canucks in five games.
“I can say it’s good, I can say it’s not good,” Caledonia coach Mike Bullard said of the down time for his team. “I think at this time of the year, a lot of kids are getting sick and it gives you a lot of time. We practice hard to get the guys are ready but this has happened to us for the last four or five seasons. We’ve had breaks like this so you get used to it.
“Are we going to be rusty at the start? For sure. It will take us a period to get our legs going. You can practice all you want, but it’s not the same as playing games but If you can’t get up against St. Kitts, you’re not going to get up against anybody.”
The Corvairs had another outstanding season with a .910 winning percentage (45-4-0-1). They led the Greater Ontario Junior Hockey League in both goals for (309) and against (89). All four of their losses in regulation were at the hands of the Falcons.
St. Catharines took the first three meetings 4-1, 4-2 and 6-3 before the Corvairs won the next two, both by 5-2 scores. St. Catharines then took the final matchup 5-2 January 23.
“We’ve matched up really well against Caledonia,” Girhiny said. “The wins and losses from the regular season don’t mean anything now.
“They’re a good team and they’ve been running on all cylinders for the last few months. They have a high-powered offence and we’ll have to match up with good play without the puck and get the good goaltending we’ve been getting all year.”
Bullard missed three of the matchups during the regular season but is aware the Corvairs can’t take the Falcons lightly.
“There’s no question they probably have a little bit of momentum against us. They did have our number and we have to pick up on that for the playoffs,” he said.
The Falcons will get Carson Edwardson back for Game 1 while Michael Davies and Kyle West are eligible to return in Game 2.
With youngsters such as Carson Eden, Spencer Smith and Holden Rogers playing so well, it will give Girhiny some options when settling on a lineup.
“We talked about it as coaches. I’m going to go with the best guys who are going give me the best performance and execute the game plan, I don’t care who you are. We’ll be going with the best players, whether they’re call-ups or not. It’s as simple as that.
“For us to be successful, let’s not kid ourselves, we need our 20-year-olds being the best players they can be at this time of the year. It’s good to have our young guys playing as well as they have been.”
The Falcons held a video session Tuesday , headed up by Erie Otters assistant coach Wes Wolfe, to prepare for the series.
Game 2 goes Friday at St. Catharines followed by Game 3 Saturday, March 31 at Caledonia. Game 4 is Monday, April 2 in St. Catharines.
Prediction: It should be a dandy but the Corvairs are the best team in the province. Caledonia in 6.
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