Junior B A’s drop double OT heartbreaker
It’s safe to say no one is enjoying the St. Catharines WMKL Junior B Athletics playoff run more than JoeJoe Brant.
The 20-year-old Port Colborne native came to the A’s this season after playing for the Welland Generals where success was hard to come by.
“You can’t ask for much more,” Brant said. “I was in Welland for the rest of my junior career and got pulled in here and kind of took over.
“I’m just happy.”
Brant joined the Junior B Athletics this season after trying out for the Junior A squad where the goaltending situation was already established.
He missed the first portion of the regular season while away at Herkimer County Community College but quickly took over the No. 1 goaltending spot with his solid, steady play and calm demeanour.
“At the time Mike (Napoli) was rolling and then we had a lot of back-to-back games so we worked JoeJoe in splitting time and then over time he started running away with the job,” A’s head coach Alec Tamas said. “He’s steady, he’s older, he’s a veteran and he’s pretty savvy so he understood what it takes.
“We brought him in from Welland so he never really had that opportunity to play for a really good team behind some really good players so he really relished the opportunity.”
Tamas said Brant’s consistency has been a key in the A’s playoff run.
“He’s super steady and a super nice kid. He’s as calm as can be in the net. He’s really helped our defence settle in. We know we’re going to make some saves so we can sit back and take care of the middle and give them the shots from outside because we know we have a goalie who’s going to make those saves all the time,” Tamas said.
Brant complied a 6.58 goals-against average and .841 save percentage in regular season games and has appeared in all of the post-season contests.
“When a goalie is hot so you stick with him. He took over the job and it’s his until it’s not,” Tamas said. “JoeJoe has been the hot goalie so we’ve been running with him.”
Having said that, Tamas is well aware Napoli is also more than capable of handling the job.
“We’re pretty blessed to have two good goalies. It’s a good spot to be in and if something were to happen, we have all our faith in Mike as well,” Tamas said.
Brant is scheduled to attend Clarke University Iowa and study physical therapy this fall and play for the field lacrosse team where he also tends goal.
“As a goalie it’s a huge difference,” he said. “I go from these smaller nets and way more pads to field where it’s way bigger nets and pretty much no pads. I transition pretty well between them. It takes me two weeks to get into the groove of it.”
Regardless of which game he is playing, Brant said he’s always been a much better player in game situations versus practice.
“I feel like we have games where in warmups you don’t feel it at all but going from warmups to the game, there is some mental switch that happens for me that all of a sudden I’m ready to go and it’s like I never let in a goal before in my life,” he said.
The A’s dropped a 9-8 double overtime decision to the Six Nations Rebels Saturday at Canada Games Park and now trail the Ontario Lacrosse Association Western Conference best-of-five final series 2-0.
“It was a heartbreaker,” Tamas said.
Trent Mooradian paced the A’s with three goals while Jack Parker had two. Singles we went to Avery Steinbach-Parker, Colton Armitage and Drew Kenney. Jaden Patterson added four assists while Brant made 44 saves.
Winter Rivera and Anahills Doxtador each had three goals for the Rebels. Eric Martin, Macay Jimerson and Shako Swamp added one each.
The Rebels took Game 1 13-12 Friday at Six Nations.
Cody MacNeil had four goals and three assists for the A’s while Parker scored twice. Ryan Andrews, Lochlan Belliveau, Ari Steenhuis, Mooradian, Patterson and Ian Kohut rounded out the scoring.
Rivera netted the winner for the Rebels with 12 seconds remaining. Doxtador chipped in three goals and six assists while Swamp also scored three times. Damon Doxtador added two goals while Jimerson, Martin, Damon Decaire and Rakawineh Elijah also scored.
Game 3 is Monday at Six Nations with Game 4, if necessary, back in St. Catharines Wednesday, July 26 at 8 p.m.
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