Falcons show off newcomers
It didn’t take Nicholas Rubino long to make his presence felt with the St. Catharines Falcons.
Picked up in a trade earlier this week, the former captain of the Thorold Blackhawks fired the game-winning goal as the Falcons topped Fort Erie Meteors 2-1 in a Greater Ontario Junior Hockey League, Golden Horseshoe Conference game Friday night at Jack Gatecliff Arena.
Rubino’s goal broke a 1-1 tie at the 8:23 mark of the third period.
“I’m definitely super-excited,” Rubino said. “It feels good to get the first off my chest early. It feels good to be part of this group and I’ll do anything to help them win.”
Rubino admitted it was a strange feeling getting dressed before the game with his new teammates.
“It was definitely a different feeling but the boys welcomed me right away,” he said. “It felt good and I feel comfortable.”
Rubino was also on the ice at the end of the game in a defensive role as the Falcons held off a hard-charging Meteors squad.
“With Mr. Rubino, as much as I like how he scores, I’ve always been a big fan of his compete (level),” St. Catharines coach Tyler Bielby said. “When I was looking down the bench figuring who was going to close out this game for us in a one-goal game, I thought of the days playing against him where he just never stops. I watched him block a few shots earlier in the game and knew he would be willing to do it at the end.”
Former Niagara IceDogs defenceman Mason Howard also made his Falcons debut and logged more than his share of ice time.
“I think Howie hasn’t played a meaningful game in two weeks and he’s coming in and joining new teammates,” Bielby said. “I like the way he slowed the game down as far as letting the play come to him and moving the puck and that helped us get out of our zone a bit.”
Howard played much of the game with former Quebec Major Junior League defenceman Olivier Desroches while captain Joe Colasurdo and Jonah Boria skated together and were the pair of choice as the game wound down.
Bielby feels it will take a period of adjustment for all the new pieces to fit into place.
“I think it will take some time and just building confidence shift to shift,” he said. “I think you get excited about playing with new guys and you try and make the cute play rather than the right play and that created some problems with us at times giving the puck away tonight.
“We’re built from the back end out and when we were struggling to score goals tonight, the back end got it done. It was a heck of a job by Mr. (Andrew) MacLean in net.”
The Meteors turned in a solid, 60-minute effort, which in the past may have been good enough.
Coach Nik Passero said those days are gone.
“I’m definitely happy with our effort, but no moral victories in that room,” he said. “We’re right back to work tomorrow. We wanted to win this. I don’t care if we’re playing the L.A. Kings, we’re here to win every night.”
Bielby was impressed with the Meteors.
“I think there are times when I’d like a bigger win against the old Fort Erie teams, but I’m not going to say that right now,” Bielby said. “Nik has his team going and I have a lot of respect for Nik. He came to say hello to me before the game and he’s putting in a lot of effort and trying to teach these guys and it’s translating on the ice.”
Falcon facts: Josh Reilly was scratched for the Falcons . . . Marcus Regina, Bryson Essery, Rylan Masterson and Antonino Pugliese did not dress for the Mets . . . Former Brock Badgers and Niagara IceDogs coach and current Barrie Colts bench boss Marty Williamson was in attendance . . . The Falcons food drive continues at their next two home games Dec.10 and Dec. 17.
Falcons 2 Meteors 1
St. Catharines goaltender Andrew MacLean with 29 saves.
For the St. Catharines Falcons: Kyle Glenney (9); Nicolas Rubino (6).
For the Fort Erie Meteors: Noah Cuizon (2).
Game stats: Shots on goal: By St. Catharines on Joshua Smith (38), by Fort Erie on Andrew MacLean (29); Power plays: St. Catharines 0-for-1, Fort Erie 0-for-1; Penalty minutes: St. Catharines 2, Fort Erie 2.
Up next: The Falcons are in Pelham Sunday at 2:45 p.m. The Meteors host Pelham Saturday at 7:15 p.m.
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