Weekend Junior B roundup: Blackhawks back to .500; Mets rally past Panthers
Christian Lynch has found his groove in goal for the Thorold Blackhawks.
The 18-year-old Ajax netminder got off to a slow start like the rest of the Blackhawks but has turned his game around and recently won five straight games between the pipes.
“Barnsy (Blackhawks coach Scott Barnes) told us to trust the process and the wins are going to come,” Lynch said. “It didn’t reflect on the scoreboard at first but they started coming and we have to just keep working hard.”
Lynch also credits Barnes for sticking with him, win or lose.
“It’s all about confidence,” Lynch said. “From the start Barnsy showed some confidence in me and I built off that. The main thing too is all the boys have my back. I just have to play my game and they’ll take over the rest.”
Lynch played last season with the St. George Ravens of the Greater Metro Junior A Hockey League.
He got a call from his adviser in the summer recommending the Blackhawks, who were in need of goaltending after Noah Fortuna graduated and Tucker Adams moved to the Gatineau Flames of the Quebec Major Junior Hockey League.
“I came down in August for tryouts and then main camp and pre-season and then got signed,” Lynch said.
Barnes liked what he saw right away from Lynch.
“He looked good and just kept building and made the team,” Barnes said.
Barnes admitted it isn’t always easy to judge goaltender early in the season.
“It’s all about games. We’re not goalie guys. Most coaches, our advice is to just stop the puck. He came in and had some real good games for us in pre-season. He won the job.”
Lynch has put solid numbers this season with a 2.74 goals-against average, .919 save percentage and seven wins in his 12 games.
“It’s been a bit faster,” he said of the pace of the Greater Ontario Junior Hockey League. “The thing about this league is there are a lot of good players. Every guy can shoot and the all around pace is faster. Every guy on team wants to be here and is putting their body on the line every game.”
Lynch said he attempts to move on from bad goals, although it’s not always easy.
“Just kind of focus on the next shot. Not expecting it to happen but you bounce back and know the team has my back and will score some goals.
“Focus on the next shot is the only thing I can do.”
While Lynch has seen more of the action lately, Barnes has also seen encouraging signs from Bradley Boville, who has earned wins in his last two starts.
“Early on we were basically rotating and then recently I told the guys you win and you’re in,” Barnes said. “We got into a pretty good hole there early. We had two rookie goalies feeling their way though the league. Christian kind of grabbed the ball and ran with it.
“My thing is having two goalies who we can throw in there on any given night.”
Barnes knew patience would be key.
“It was pretty big shoes to fill for anybody coming in here. It was something we didn’t have to think about the last couple of years. It was throw Tuna (Fortuna) in the net and we’re good,” Barnes said. “It is an adjustment for us but we knew that going in. We knew we had two goalies who were new to the league and were going to have to adjust and that was going to take some time.”
Lynch earned his second shutout of the season Saturday as the Hawks blanked the visiting Niagara Falls Canucks 4-0 at the Vale Centre.
Daniel Vasic led the Blackhawks with a pair of goals while Dylan Pergentile and Liam Wicks added singles.
The win evened Thorold’s record to 9-9 after a 2-8 start.
Hawk talk: Vasic was named the GOJHL’s Rookie of the Month for October. The Newmarket native collected nine goals and 16 points in nine games.
Corvairs 4 Junior Canadians 3 OT
Alec Stewart scored in overtime to lift the Caledonia Corvairs past the visiting Welland Junior Canadians Saturday.
Brayden Russell, Tanner Hunt and Dylan Dekoe also scored for the Corvairs.
Tyler Isherwood, Matthew Schlosser and Gabriel Chiarot replied for Welland.
Meteors 4 Panthers 3 OT
The visiting Fort Erie Meteors rallied for an overtime win Sunday afternoon in Pelham.
Down 3-2 with less than two minutes to play, the Mets tied the game on a goal by Matthew Herb at the 18:43 mark, then won it when Brad DiTillio scored at the 4:22 mark of OT.
Henry Vest and Yianni Koukouves also scored for Fort Erie.
Cameron Savoie, Damon Radley and Robbie Denham replied for the Panthers.
Nolan Lane earned the win in goal for the Mets with 17 saves.
Andrew Welch made 38 saves in goal for Pelham.
“Really proud of the guys,” Pelham general manager Tim Toffolo said. “They played really well this weekend and battled really hard.”
Kilty B’s Junior Canadians, ppd.
A problem with the ice resurfacer at the Welland Arena caused postponement of the game.
Thorold at Hamilton, 7 p.m.
Thorold at St. Catharines, 7 p.m.
Hamilton at Niagara Falls, 7 p.m.
Welland at Pelham, 7:45 p.m.
St. Catharines at Fort Erie, 7 p.m.
Niagara Falls at Caledonia, 7:30 p.m.
Caledonia at Pelham, 2:45 p.m.
Fort Erie at Welland, 7 p.m.
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