Meteors hold off Sailors in opener
It didn’t take long for controversy to bubble up as the Port Colborne Sailors and Fort Erie Meteors kicked off the Greater Ontario Junior Hockey League regular season Friday at the Vale Centre.
With the Meteors up 4-3 and time winding down, the Sailors appeared to tie the game at 4-4 with just over two seconds remaining following a mad scramble in front of Fort Erie goaltender Charlie Burns.
But the goal was immediately waved off by officials who ruled the net had been dislodged before the puck went in, sending the Sailors off the deep end.
“The puck went in and then the net came off, it was pretty obvious, and their goalie kicked it off. In any other league that’s a goal. There’s no question about it,” Port general manager/coach Scott Barnes said. “What really bugs us is there’s not even a conversation. The referee says no goal and they don’t even have a meeting, they don’t get together to go over it, nor do they come over to explain in to the bench.
“The lack of communication is pretty sad.”
Port Colborne forward Brendan Grenville was in the middle of the scramble.
“I saw a lot of bouncing pucks, a lot of commotion,” he said. “I thought we tied it late. We finished the game pretty strong. It wasn’t the way we wanted (it to end).
“It was a pretty good back and forth, to say the least. They have a pretty good team over there, young and fast.”
Grenville, a 19-year-old Fonthill resident, scored earlier in the game to give the Sailors a 3-2 lead after two before the Meteors rallied with a pair in the third.
“He’s got some great offensive skill and we expect him to produce this year and he expects that out of himself,” Barnes said of Grenville. “Last year he was an 18-year-old rookie in the league just feeling his way through. That’s what it is. The first year you have to try and figure it out and now he’s 19 and going to have a pretty big year for us.”
Grenville, who had 14 goals and 35 points in 42 games last season, appears ready to top those totals this year.
“Definitely playing another year and being an older player in the league and playing with two very good players (Nathan Kelly and Sam Tonelli),” he said when asked for the difference this year versus playing as a rookie last season. “They are pretty high end players and makes it really easy.”
The Sailors were playing their first game in Port since making the move from Thorold official and rebranding the team.
“It was great. We wanted to make sure we came out strong and had a good battle in our first game for our fans and hopefully they come back,” Barnes said. “We saw some good things, some bad things and some things we need to improve. It was a good first game. It was good to have an intense game. It came down to the buzzer.”
Fort Erie general/manager coach Nik Passero was pleased with his charges.
“Even though they had a quick start I thought we were good in the first. The last 40 minutes I though we skated downhill at them. We combatted their speed and toughness with some speed of our own and skill and obviously Charlie Burns was the story of the night,” he said.
Sailor stuff: Sammy Cino, Nick Manjert, Andrew Kennedy and Luke Cardiff-Bilodeau did not dress for the Sailors . . . Rylan Masterson (suspension) and Braden Carruthers were scratched for the Meteors . . . Port Colborne mayor Bill Steele dropped the puck for the ceremonial opening face-off . . . Sailors volunteer Dom Gicante celebrated his 77th birthday Friday . . . The Welland Junior Canadians doubled the Pelham Panthers 4-2 in Pelham.
Meteors 4 Sailors 3
Young’s Insurance Player of the Game: Fort Erie goalie Charlie Burns with 32 saves, including one on a penalty shot by Sam Tonelli in the third period.
Port Colborne Sailors: Dylan Pergentile (1), Aiden Cupelli (1), Brendan Grenville (1).
Fort Erie Meteors: Caleb Bidgood (1), Blake Hall (1), Kyle Adamo (1), R.J. Schmidt (1).
Game stats: Shots on goal: By Port Colborne on Charlie Burns (35), by Fort Erie on Tucker Adams (32); Power plays: Port Colborne 2/3, Fort Erie 0/3; Penalty minutes: Port Colborne 9, Fort Erie 12.
Up next: The Sailors are in Welland Sunday. The Meteors host the St. Catharines Falcons Saturday.
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