Weekend Junior B roundup: Graves digs defensive role
Jonathon Graves is not the least bit concerned about his offensive output. Rather, the 18-year-old defenceman for the Thorold Blackhawks is more interested in helping keep the puck out of the net.
“I’ve always been more of a stay-at-home defenceman, not too offensive. I like the defensive part of the game more,” the Fort Erie native said.
Graves has one goal and one assist in 21 games for the Hawks this season.
“It’s nice scoring goals but to win a game you can’t be scored against, that’s how I see the game and exactly how (coach Scott) Barnes sees the games. He likes those gritty, low-scoring games.”
Graves feels being an effective defender comes down to awareness.
“Just really knowing your positioning and knowing where the other guys are on the ice and knowing your role on the team,” he said. “We have a lot of guys who can score goals, but if we get out-scored, we can’t win.”
Thorold coach Scott Barnes appreciates Graves’ attention to defence.
“He’s just a stay-at-home defenceman. Blocks shots, kills penalties and does what he’s asked,” Barnes said. “He’s playing real well. He’s battled through a couple of injuries but he worked his way through that and he’s healthy.”
Graves played last season for the Hershey Cubs of the United State Professional Hockey League.
“I wasn’t quite sure about the whole COVID thing,” Graves said. “I was here trying out but decided to go to the States. I loved the team, loved the experience, but it wasn’t the best thing for me, plus I knew Barnes and knew the team so I decided to come back home.”
Barnes said Graves made it impossible to cut him.
“He was a late signing. He came on at the end of camp right as the season was starting and we committed to him. He earned his way on to our roster.”
Graves is taking a year off from school and plans to attend Niagara College next year and study to be an automotive service technician.
The Blackhawks recently moved defenceman Izayah Luddington to London of the Western Conference as Barnes attempts to find the proper blend on the blueline.
“We had too many of the offensive-minded guys. We need to take care of our own zone,” Barnes said. “We were looking for the good mix between guys who could play a little bit in the O zone and but I’m more worried about guys taking care of our zone right now.
“That’s what we’re really stressing and concentrating on.”
The Blackhawks made a few other moves ahead of Tuesday’s Greater Ontario Junior Hockey League trade deadline.
Adrian Diodati is back from the Canadian Central Hockey League while rugged forward Roberto Polillo has been added to the roster and former Welland Junior Canadian defenceman Carson Trevisani has been brought in from the Waterloo Siskins.
“We’re making some moves trying to adjust our lineup,” Barnes said. “We think we’re pretty set right now. We like what we have. We have a lot of depth. Most likely we are done, but you never know.”
The Blackhawks improved to 18-16 with a pair of wins over the weekend.
Christian Lynch made 45 saves for the shutout as the Hawks blanked the visiting Niagara Falls Canucks 2-0 Saturday night.
Jagger North and Callum Cheynowski provided the offence.
Sunday afternoon in Pelham, Daniel Vasic and Dylan Coers each netted two goals in a 6-3 win.
Aiden Cupelli and Jagger North also scored while Lynch made 32 saves for the win.
Jason Gee, Riley Smith and Ethan Ingram replied for the Panthers.
Keegan Jackson kicked out 53 shots in a losing effort for Pelham.
Corvairs 4 Kilty B’s 1
The Caledonia Corvairs made it two impressive wins in a row with a home victory over the Hamilton Kilty B’s.
The win came just 24 hours following a 6-5 win at St. Catharines Friday.
Dylan Dekoe, Calvin Crombie, Dominic Mufarreh and Tanner Hunt scored while Marek Pavlas made 30 saves for the win.
Noah Vanderbrink netted the lone Hamilton goal.
Meteors 6 Junior Canadians 2
Marcus Regina potted three goals as the Fort Erie Meteors got back on the winning track with a convincing victory at home.
Kyle Adamo, Sam Barrett and Henry Vest also scored for the Mets.
Nolan Lane made 29 saves for the win.
Jack Ryan and Kevin Gould replied for Welland.
Falcons 7 Junior Canadians 1
The St. Catharines Falcons raced out to a 5-0 lead in the first period en route to victory at Welland Sunday.
Cam Knight had two goals while Calvin Petrovsky, Jonah Boria, Cameron Lowe, Michael Colavecchia and Nathan Robertson also scored for the Falcons. Parker Forlin chipped in with three assists.
“Was nice to bounce back after a loss and get five in the first period,” Falcons coach Tyler Bielby said. “We scored by committee tonight which is always nice to see.
“It’s important that we continue to compete through 60 minutes. We took the second period off tonight and as a result Welland won the period. We settled back in during the third and were able to add a couple more.”
Daniel Thomakos countered for Welland.
Stephen Toltl made 26 saves for the win.
The Falcons are home to Niagara Falls Friday and visit the Canucks Sunday afternoon.
“We will get back to work this week at practice and get ready for a back-to-back versus the Falls,” Bielby said.
The win improves the Falcons record to 26-4-2 and moves them into first place by one point over Hamilton. The Falcons have two games in hand.
Welland at Fort Erie, 7:30 p.m.
Hamilton at Welland, 7:30 p.m.
Fort Erie at Hamilton, 7 p.m.
Niagara Falls at St. Catharines, 7 p.m.
Hamilton at Thorold (at Port Colborne), 7:30 p.m.
Caledonia at Fort Erie, 7 p.m.
St. Catharines at Niagara Falls, 3 p.m.
Pelham at Welland, 7 p.m.
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