Weekend Junior B roundup: Wicks profile; Falcons split
Liam Wicks has been required to make more than his fair share of adjustments this season.
The Buffalo native joined the Thorold Blackhawks this season after a year in the United States Premier Hockey League and admitted things are a little more intense north of the border.
“It’s a lot more physical,” he said. “Last year it was a lot more of a skill-based thing. These guys have the skill but it’s a lot more physical.”
At 5-foot-8, 141 pounds, Wicks can be an easy target for bigger, stronger players.
“It’s not easy. You just have to learn to battle through it. Get my body in the right position and things like that,” he said.
Wicks said it’s been a learning process.
“You kind of just grow into it. You get through it. Early in the season, I was struggling with it but I talked to the coaches and was doing a little bit of film and talking to some other people with what they see from up top.”
Wicks marvels at how well many of the players know each other in the Golden Horseshoe.
“They chirp each other like they’ve been chirping each other for the last 10 years. That’s way different than playing in the States,” he said.
Wicks lived in a dorm last season with the WB/Scranton Knights.
“It’s a lot of fun to get to know the guys,” Wicks said. “Last year I lived with all my teammates. This year I show up to the rink and see everybody so it’s a different learning experience getting to know guys, but it’s a good time.”
Wicks has held his own on the ice with 10 goals and 17 points in 40 games.
“He’s a smart player. He’s crafty and he has good skill,” Thorold coach Scott Barnes said. “He works hard and has pretty good hockey IQ so he’s able to play with good players and be offensive. Early on we were working on some defensive things, my style of hockey I like my guys to play, and he bided his time and waited for the opportunity to play more.”
Wicks has been playing recently with rookie dynamic rookies Daniel Vasic and Brendan Grenville.
“He’s brought a lot of offence. He’s a very creative guy,” Barnes said. “He’s playing on the power play now with Vasic and Grenville on a pretty solid line. He’s bringing a lot as a 19-year-old. I think if he were to stay next year, he could put up some good points for us.”
Barnes is happy with Wicks’ willingness to buy into his system as well.
“He played in a good league last year. I’m kind of demanding where I like players to play two ways and be responsible in all three zones. Not all players have come up with that type of coaching or demands. It’s not just Americans, it could be any players and he’s bought into the system,” he said.
Wicks collected a goal Saturday as the Blackhawks rebounded from a 4-3 loss to Caledonia Friday with a 4-3 overtime triumph over the visiting St. Catharines Falcons.
Vasic, Grenville and Nathan Kelly also scored.
Christian Lynch had another outstanding game with 40 saves in net for the Hawks.
Cam Knight had two goals and Kyle Glenney one for St. Catharines, which led 2-0 early on.
Rookie Stephen Toltl made 25 saves in net.
The Blackhawks are one point behind the Corvairs for fourth place. The teams meet Monday in Caledonia.
Fort Erie 5 Caledonia 4
The Fort Erie Meteors rallied with three goals in the third period to defeat the visiting Caledonia Corvairs at the Leisureplex.
Kyle Adamo led the way with a pair of goals while Marcus Regina, Brad DiTillio and Nicholas Holomego added singles.
Josh Smith made 17 saves for the win.
Clark Dunford collected two goals for the Corvairs while Calvin Crombie and Daniel Moro also scored.
Keegan Jackson faced 38 shots in net for Caledonia.
Canucks 8 Panthers 1
The Niagara Falls Canucks broke open a close game with four goals in the second period to defeat the visiting Pelham Panthers.
Alexander Hebblethwaite netted two goals for the winners while singles came off the sticks of Evan Storie, Robbie Nelson Jr., Keegan Driscoll, Tighe Frazee and Nate McFarlane.
Avery Alves made 17 saves for Niagara Falls.
Luke Breadner netted Pelham’s lone goal.
Falcons 7 Panthers 1
The Falcons rebounded from a pair of overtime losses to defeat the Pelham Panthers at the Pelham Community Centre.
Colton Chipman scored three times while Parker Forlin added a pair. Jonah Boria and Chris Reid rounded out the scoring.
“Was nice to see Chipman contribute with a hat trick and Forlin with another couple goals,” Falcons coach Tyler Bielby said. “Nice to wrap up a long weekend of hockey with a win. Boys were ready to play from puck drop controlled the pace of the game from start to finish.”
Boria also added a pair of assists and now has 52 points in 42 games this season.
“Congrats to captain Boria on reaching the 50-point mark on the season. Never an easy thing to do as a D-man,” Bielby said.
Aiden Berry made 14 saves for the victory.
Jeremiah Rausch scored for Pelham.
Kilty B’s 4 Junior Canadians 2
The Hamilton Kilty B’s kept the pressure on first place St. Catharines with a win at Welland.
Connor Haynes, Nathan Omeri, Dawson McKinney and Carson Lloyd scored for Hamilton.
Anthony Dicarmine and Matthew Schlosser replied for Welland.
The Kilty B’s trail the Falcons by three points for first. The Falcons own one game in hand.
Thorold at Caledonia, 7:30 p.m.
Fort Erie at Hamilton, 7 p.m.
Thorold at St. Catharines, 7 p.m.
Pelham at Niagara Falls, 7 p.m.
St. Catharines at Fort Erie, 7 p.m.
Welland at Caledonia, 7:30 p.m.
Pelham at Welland, 1:30 p.m.
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