Falcons work overtime in opener
Fans got their money’s worth Friday night when the St. Catharines Falcons hosted the Caledonia Corvairs in the Greater Ontario Junior Hockey League, Golden Horseshoe Conference season opener for both squads at the Seymour-Hannah Sports Complex.
After a scoreless overtime, the game wasn’t decided until the eighth round of the shootout when Treyson Dewar scored to give the Falcons a 4-3 victory.
After a fairly even first two periods, Caledonia dominated to third period to take a 3-2 lead only to see Calvin Petrovsky tie it up with 1:30 left in the game.
The Falcons flipped the script in overtime and controlled play with the exception of two minutes of penalty killing.
In the shootout, Marcus Harris hit a goalpost for the Falcons in the fourth round and Zach Mambella had to score in the fifth round to keep the game going for St. Catharines before Dewar send the home crowd home happy.
“What a way to start the year,” Falcons head coach/GM Tyler Bielby said. “I think both teams need to go home with their heads up and that’s junior hockey at its best. I am glad we could give our fans something to cheer about at the end and have that last shot. I am extremely proud of our young men and the way a lot of them played their first junior hockey game.”
If looking to nitpick, Bielby would like to have seen his squad play better in the third period.
“There’s a lot of learning and almost half our lineup is playing their first junior game. That means something and they were not just playing anybody,” he said. “They were playing the Caledonia Corvairs who everybody knows is a rivalry and we like playing each other. It is a process and a journey and we have to continue to teach so we can put that 60 minutes together.”
Bielby had no explanation for how his team became the better squad in overtime.
“That’s tricky. Huge credit to William Moore, the defenceman. He had a great stick on the penalty kill and our penalty killers in general in the overtime didn’t allow them to win the game,” he said. “I am so happy. We haven’t had a chance to practice four-on-three.”
The star for the Falcons was rookie netminder Hayden Jeffrey, who had 41 saves in regulation and overtime and blanked seven of eight attempts in the shootout.
“He is so comfortable, calm and focused and he is an even better kid,” Bielby said. “I am so glad he is local and he is going to have a really bright future ahead of him. He is going to do a lot of great things for us this year.”
He likes a lot of things about Jeffrey, but one thing in particular.
“It’s his demeanour and focus. He doesn’t get rattled, he’s not too high, he’s not too low, he’s here to stop pucks and he does a great job of doing it.”
The Grade 12 student at West Niagara discovered quickly that preseason action is a lot different than the real thing.
“Especially since that was my first-ever shootout,” the 17-year-old Grimsby resident said. “It was fun playing in there and the boys were pretty excited after they scored that last goal.”
He looked calm and collected the whole night.
“I was a little nervous at the start and the boys helped ease me into it. It felt good after a couple of saves.”
Jeffrey, who had a 2.14 GAA and three shutouts last season with the Niagara North Stars AAA under-18 team, is thrilled to be playing for the Falcons.
“I used to watch the Grimsby Peach Kings and this team and it has been a dream of mine to play junior B for the St. Catharines Falcons. To win like this in my first game like this was really fun and really special,” the 6-foot-1, 170-pounder said. “It is a great organization.”
He will take Friday’s win and get ready for the next one.
“I thought I had a pretty good game. The boys kept the guys out of the front so it was nice and easy to see the puck from the point. I have to give credit to my team for playing so well today.”
Falcons 4 Corvairs 3 (shootout)
St. Catharines goalie Hayden Jeffrey with 41 saves in regulation and overtime and seven saves on eight shots in the shootout.
For the St. Catharines Falcons: Matthew Hlacar (1); Caleb Thompson (1); Calvin Petrovsky (1). Shootout winner by Treyson Dewar.
For the Caledonia Corvairs: Jayden Lammel (1); Owen Rainey: Jarret Moriarty (1).
Game stats: Shots on goal: By St. Catharines on Keegan Jackson 38; by Caledonia on Hayden Jeffrey 44. Power plays: St. Catharines 1-4, Caledonia 1-6; Penalty minutes: St. Catharines 10, Caledonia 9.
Up next: The Falcons are at Fort Erie Saturday. Next home game is Friday, Sept. 29 at 7 p.m. at Seymour-Hannah vs. Welland.