Weekend Junior B roundup: Hawks top Corvairs, Falcons hold off Panthers; Macchione shines
Jagger North has fit in perfectly with the Thorold Blackhawks.
Thorold coach/general manager Scott Barnes picked up the 20-year-old winger after he was released earlier this season by the St. Catharines Falcons and North quickly became an important member of the team.
“Even before they released him, we were talking about making a deal to get him,” Barnes said. “There were a couple of teams interested in him he was talking to and luckily the opportunity to come here and play and have a big role was appealing to him and having some buddies on the team also helped out.”
North, who played in four games with the Falcons before a numbers crunch necessitated his release, was happy to join the Hawks where he already knew captain Jack Sykes from minor hockey as well as former Falcons Wyatt Gibson and Aiden Cupelli.
“It was a pretty easy transition,” North said. “There are some differences. When you go into a new room and you played hard against them you never know how you’ll be treated but they welcomed me with open arms and I felt part of the team since I came.”
North said he has no regrets joining the Blackhawks.
“I took a couple of days to think about it because it was kind of a tough experience but I definitely wanted to play against them and play in this league,” he said. “I felt I could be an impact player used properly and I’ve felt I’ve had a chance to show that.
“Very happy with the decision.”
North has collected four goals and 18 points in 20 games since joining the Blackhawks.
“I’m getting a lot more opportunities,” he said. “I feel in St. Catharines I didn’t get as many opportunities but now I’m playing on the power play and penalty kill and a lot of minutes.”
Barnes recently named North an assistant captain.
“Having that kind of role and getting the assistant captain which was a huge honour really showed me that I’m a part of this team,” he said. “It’s a huge thing because I feel like the guys really listen to me. I’ve been there and seen first hand what it takes to win and bring little parts of that. Just trying to help them through the struggles every player goes through in this league.”
Barnes feel North’s experience with the Sutherland Cup champion Falcons last season has been vital.
“All that’s a bonus,” Barnes said. “We’re not a real young team but we’re inexperienced. A lot of time I’ll lean on him and ask him what it was like last year, just different parts of the game, the room, different systems. What it takes to be successful.
“Everybody I talked to told me how good this kid was. Mason Howard played with him last year and was a big part of that. I told him the big thing we needed at the time was some leadership and someone to calm the room and guide us. It was leadership we really needed.”
Apart from scoring at almost a point-per-game pace and his leadership, North has also been a boost to the Hawks’ special teams.
“We’ve used him in all situations,” Barnes said. “I knew I had a hard-working, third-line grinder type of guy who could play physical but we’ve played him on the power play and some penalty kill time. He’s really helped our PK and he and (Liam) Loftus getting some chemistry right off the bat has helped us out.”
North had a goal and an assist as the Blackhawks got back on the winning track with a solid effort to top the Caledonia Corvairs 6-3 Saturday night at the Vale Centre.
Nathan Kelly added two while Grayson Gare and Anthony Dicarmine also scored.
Calvin Crombie had two goals and Alec Stewart one for Caledonia.
Tucker Adams, in his second game back after returning from Gatineau of the Quebec Major Junior League, made 27 saves for the win.
The Blackhawks, who had dropped three of their previous four games before Saturday’s win, are 14-13 and just one point behind the Corvairs for fourth place.
With the trade deadline just over a month away, it will be interesting to see if the Hawks buy or sell.
“We really could go either way,” Barnes said. “We had the rough start and then went on a little bit of a roll. We haven’t played great in the last few games so we’re at that point are we adding and what do we need to help us get to the next round?”
Meteors 3 Canucks 1
The Fort Erie Meteors topped the visiting Niagara Falls Canucks Saturday night at the Leisureplex for their 12th straight win versus the Canucks.
Thomas Gualtieri, Caleb Bidgood and Brad Ditillio scored for the Mets.
Sam Ostafin had the lone Niagara Falls goal.
Josh Smith made 22 saves for the win.
“It’s fun going to the rink when your guys work as hard as my guys do. For the first time all year, our staff loved our game for 60 minutes both nights this weekend. Complete games by our whole lineup,” Meteors coach/general manager Nik Passero said.
The Mets also topped Thorold 4-1 Friday as Joseph Macchione scored three short-handed goals.
“Very special weekend for Joe Macchione. Not sure if people understand how hard it is to do what he did Friday night but it was fun to watch. He’s been great for us and the sky is the ceiling for him,” Passero added.
Falcons 6 Panthers 2
The St. Catharines Falcons broke open a close game with four unanswered goals in the final 20 minutes at Pelham Sunday afternoon.
The teams were tied 2-2 after two periods before the Falcons scored four goals in just under 15 minutes.
“Happy to take the four points from the weekend, however, we will need to be better moving forward,” Falcons coach Tyler Bielby said. “Our first two periods today were simply not good enough. Never mind the scoreboard, we were sloppy and our heads were still in the parking lot through the first 40 minutes.
“Did some things better in the third to close out the win, but we need to practise better habits throughout 60 minutes. We will get back to work this week at practice and be ready for a big weekend ahead versus Niagara Falls and Caledonia.”
Cameron Lowe had two goals for St. Catharines while Cam Knight, Parker Forlin, Nathan Robertson and Cal Petrovsky added singles. Jonah Boria and Blake Yetman chipped in with three assists each.
Philip Caridi and Damon Radley replied for the Panthers.
“We feel we can compete with any team in this league,” Panthers general manager Tim Toffolo said. “We just need to have a full lineup. We prove it time and time again in the games that we play. We just run out of gas in them. We have too many guys up in the stands that we rely upon so now we’re really looking forward to a full lineup.”
Kilty B’s 3 Junior Canadians 2 OT
Nathan Omeri scored at 5:28 of overtime to give the visiting Hamilton Kilty B’s the victory at Welland Sunday night.
Dawson McKinney’s two goals gave Hamilton a 2-0 lead before Kevin Gould and Jack Ryan tied the game up at 2-2.
Ethan Labbe made 48 saves in a losing effort in goal for Welland.
Niagara Falls at Hamilton, 7 p.m.
Niagara Falls at St. Catharines, 7 p.m.
Hamilton at Thorold (at Port Colborne), 7:30 p.m.
Welland at Pelham, 7:45 p.m.
Thorold at Fort Erie, 7 p.m.
St. Catharines at Caledonia, 7:30 p.m.
Niagara Falls at Pelham, 2:45 p.m.
Fort Erie at Welland, 7 p.m.
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