Hawks enter Kawartha Championships courtesy of bye
By Darren Lum
Published Feb. 25, 2020
A 4-2 loss to end the regular season against the AAA St. Peter Catholic Secondary School is a lesson the Hawks won’t soon forget.
Coach Jason Morissette said the team will use the loss for a strong push in the coming post-season, as they returned to form executing the team’s style of play against the best team in the Kawartha High School Hockey League.
His message to the team after the game was a reminder about the importance of following through with their system of play.
“Today, we were kind of back to playing, I think, the system that will help us have success. That’s really it. It’s a positive game and again we got to play so that’s at least another thing, right?” he said.
In the team’s previous game when they lost to Holy Cross, it was evident to Morissette that the team got away from executing their system of play, which was a major factor in the loss.
“So, I think we’re in good shape if the guys take this mentally forward and think positive. Like I said, we’re 2-2 with a AAA school that’s got lots and lots of players at their school with an excellent program and I think at the end we just ran out of gas [and started] making some mental mistakes, they capitalized and there’s a reason why they’re tearing up the league,” he said.
He said the Saints are the team to beat.
Losing by two goals to the undefeated Saints was better than the rest of the league, Morissette said.
“That team hasn’t lost all year ... The single A schools, a lot of the scores have been like 10-1. They’ve been beating most single A schools by like five goals so I think we did great today. We definitely ran out of gas, but when you look skater for skater they had a whole squad of very good skaters. They all could skate really well. They’re all smooth skaters,” he said. “At the end, any defensive things in our own end, we were making mistakes at the end that’s when they got those two goals.”
The Hawks were actually leading 2-0 in the first period before the Saints answered with a pair of their own in the same frame. The home team supporters were rewarded for their attendance with a strong and competitive game. It wasn’t until the final minutes of the game when the Hawks surrendered the lead and the Saints added an insurance marker to finish the game. It was clear the Hawks were tired.
A pair of five-on-three powerplays midway through the game came up empty due in part to missing Hawks sniper and the team’s leading goal scorer Braeden Robinson, who received a slash in the first period and did not return.
“We were on the powerplay. He beat a guy. Made a move and the guy slashed him real hard,” he said. “He’s been doing really well on our powerplay. We’ll wait and see. Cross our fingers, but he’s a key part of our [team].”
Robinson, who is expected to get X-rays, is also one of the leaders, as assistant captain and a senior on the team. The hope is to have him back. Before he was injured, he had hit a pair of cross bars.
Morissette has an appreciation for all of his players.
Many of them have never played this high of a level of hockey before. Some have never even played contact hockey before this season, he said.
“This is an extreme jump for them. Some of them have not learned about even simple systems about how to play and how to get out of your own end. In terms of high school hockey for me it is the largest learning curve I have ever experienced as a coach. It’s been fun in a way. It’s not like I can look at these guys and say, ‘You already know this.’ Some of them just don’t know,” he said.
He said the players have been open to learning and have adapted to the quicker pace and the sophistication of play. Missing the opportunity to play two games, which were cancelled due to scheduling issues as a result of the labour dispute, he said, really hindered the team’s development and took away what could have been momentum builders – he believed the Red Hawks had great potential to beat both teams.
Morissette commended his rookie goalie Darian Maddock, a Grade 10 student, who got the start against the Saints.
“I thought he played really well. I really didn’t see a bad goal. All four goals were all defensive breakdowns so it wasn’t on the goalie,” he said.
Maddock appreciated the opportunity to start and to play in front of family and friends.
“I knew these guys were one of the top ranked teams in the league and I just wanted to play my best and kind of get the team and crowd into it,” he said.
On the whole, he said, he played well, even if there were a few areas he’d like to improve.
He said the team has the potential to advance past the Kawartha regional championship tournament as long as the team can execute their systems.
“When we do that we can compete with the best teams,” he said.
The Highland Storm rep midget goalie said the Saints are the toughest test he has faced all year.
A day after the Hawks’ loss to the Saints, Morissette contacted media, announcing the team finished fourth out of the nine AA schools in Kawartha. The Hawks earned a bye to the Kawartha Championship tournament on March 3 because the Flames of Campbellford were not able “to field a team for the playoff game this week.”
He added the team is looking forward to being able to compete in the championships and will prepare with a pair of practices.