Stingy Falcons blank Panthers
The St. Catharines Falcons coach Tyler Bielby has a problem and he couldn’t be happier about it.
The Falcons recorded their fourth consecutive shutout with a 6-0 win over the Pelham Panthers in a Greater Ontario Junior Hockey League, Golden Horseshoe Conference game Friday at Jack Gatecliff Arena.
Andrew MacLean was in goal for the first three shutouts while Josh Johnson was between the pipes Friday.
The Falcons, 9-2-0-1, have permitted just 10 goals in 12 games and sit atop the standings with 19 points.
Bielby admitted it is far from the norm to have two such exceptional netminders on one team.
“It’s unusual, particularly in this league,” Bielby said. “They make it really easy to handle. Josh is a really good teammate and he knows what we have in Mac.
“He’s been a good teammate and allowed the process to be easy on us and when he heard his name called, he came and showed up.”
Johnson, a 19-year-old Hamilton resident, was playing just his third game of the season.
“It’s a great feeling just to be out there trying to have fun,” said Johnson, who has permitted only one goal this season. “It doesn’t matter necessarily that I’m not playing that much.
“It’s just nice to be out there.”
Johnson, who last played for the Waterloo Wolves AAA in the 2019/20 season, isn’t worried about playing time.
“We’re just trying to go with the flow and see how it’s going,” he said. “I know I’ll get some (time) eventually.
“Mac is playing really well and it’s nice to see him proving he can play higher than this level.”
Johnson said he is fortunate to have the former Niagara IceDogs backstop as a partner.
“There has been a lot learned already just watching him in practice and the way he moves around the crease and tracks the puck through screens,” he said. “There so much to learn there with the calmness.”
Bielby realizes how important it is to have two quality netminders to be able to call on.
“I think any coach, any manager, would tell you it’s everything,” he said. “There’s a lot of comfort going into the playoffs having two goalies like that and even down the stretch when we play three games in four nights and those points really matter.”
Johnson hasn’t played since Oct. 8 and, with three games in four nights next week, Bielby wanted to get him some work.
“Josh deserves to play and there’s no reason to have him sit too long,” he said. “Josh’s name is most likely to get called again (next weekend) and he’ll be ready to go.”
The Falcons led 1-0 after one period and then added three more in the second.
“I think three of our four lines played really heavy tonight,” Bielby said. “If they play that way in the O-zone and keep their feet moving and get pucks to the net, it wears teams down.”
Bielby tipped his cap to the Panthers for playing a full 60 minutes.
“They didn’t quit,” he said. “They kept finishing their checks and kept coming and our boys had to keep their heads up. They didn’t just roll over.”
Falcon facts: Wyatt Gibson, Matthew Stranges and Cal Reesor did not dress for the Falcons . . . Max Bredin, Cal Petrovsky and Liam Blackhurst were scratched for the Panthers.
Falcons 6 Panthers 0
St. Catharines Falcons goaltender Josh Johnson with 24 saves for the shutout.
For the St. Catharines Falcons: Jagger North 2 (4,5); Sam Williamson 2 (3,4); Aidan Eames-Cupelli (3); Joe Colasurdo (1).
For the Pelham Panthers: No scoring.
Game stats: Shots on goal: By St. Catharines on John Burbridge/Brayden Kelso (31), by Pelham on Johnson (24); Power plays: St. Catharines 2-for-4, Pelham 0-for-2; Penalty minutes: St. Catharines 4, Pelham 16.
Up next: The Falcons are off until next Friday they host Pelham again. The Panthers host Fort Erie Sunday at 2:45 p.m.
Meteors 4 Canucks 3 OT
Antonino Pugliese’s third goal of the game, 48 seconds into overtime, lifted the visiting Fort Erie Meteors past the Niagara Falls Canucks at the Gale Centre Friday.
Marcus Regina also scored for the Mets.
Tanner McEachern, Matthew Riva and Blake Power replied for the Canucks.
Dear reader. If you liked this story or one of the 3,600 other stories found on our website, please consider hitting the Support Us button on the right-hand side of our home page and making a PayPal contribution to our website. Your support would be much appreciated. If you are a business owner, please consider advertising on our site. Our rates are reasonable and we provide plenty of exposure for your business. Contact email@example.com for more information.