Hawks tie earned from last second heroics
By Darren Lum
Dec. 6, 2016
Sometimes a point is just the beginning.
The Red Hawks escaped with a point in its 2-2 home opener tie for the Kawartha High School Hockey League on Thursday, Dec. 1 at the A.J. LaRue Arena in Haliburton after playing a man short for more than half the overtime.
With the four-on-four five-minute overtime, it’s not something teams practice for and it’s even more challenging when you play one player down for most of it.
Coach Ron Yake was satisfied with his team’s effort and their ability to gain a point.
“To come out of it with a tie was almost a victory in that sense. We didn’t give up that goal in the five minute overtime so kudos to the guys that were on the ice and working hard looking after that,” he said.
Yake acknowledges a win would have obviously been better, but the point is important in this “competitive hockey league.”
He welcomes this challenge, believing it will prepare the team for the playoffs.
There were only 19 seconds left in the game when the Hawks sniper Mat Wilbee scored on tip-in at the front of the net from a quick cross-ice pass by defenceman Jacob Bishop at the boards.
Yake deflected any credit for a drawn up play and complimented his players’ efforts to send the game to overtime.
“That was sheer hard work and good effort. It’s nice to be rewarded for good effort,” he said.
Wilbee’s heroics wouldn’t have been possible without the stellar and steady play of rookie goalie Carson Sisson.
“He was very steady in the net and does not lose his angles. He controlled the rebounds and he had a very good game for a Grade 10 in the home opener,” he said.
The Grade 10 athlete is part of three-goalie rotation set, which will change each game until playoffs.
The other two goalies are Grade 10 Jackson Campbell, who played in the season opener, and veteran Cole Finlay, expected to play in the next game at 3:50 p.m. on Wednesday, Dec. 7 in Haliburton.
The Hawks weathered the Spartans’ first period offensive storm and kept the score knotted at zero for the first until Haliburton’s Owen Smith could score with 9:57 left in the second period. They carried the lead until late in the second and then were down a goal with 4:44 in the third period.
The home opener was a strong team effort, but it starts with a formidable defensive corps.
There is a mix of rookies and veterans on the blue line who were big part of the low scoring affair.
“They were working well as pairs and as a defensive unit ... Carter [O’Neil], Shawn Walker, Ryan Hall are new to the team. Those three guys had a good game,” he said.
Except for one penalty in the overtime, which he attributes to “bad luck” rather than intent, the Hawks didn’t get penalized after the whistle and demonstrated discipline to stay out of the box for senseless penalties.
With a team of teens, they did well to only commit two penalties in the first and second. In the third the team doubled that and then edged out the Spartans two penalties to one in the extra frame.
After two league games, Yake believes his team is rounding into form, making improvements from the season opener against the Spartans days before in Lindsay. Haliburton lost 5-2 and are now 0-1-1 on the season while the Spartans are undefeated 1-1-0. The effort was there, Yake said, but didn’t play as well as a team like they did in the rubber match in Haliburton. Before this game, the team worked on short shifts, moving the puck, power-play and face-offs.
The team improved in all facets.
“Considering where they were on Tuesday and where we are today I think it’s progress and we got to be happy with our effort and play today,” he said. “If we continue to see that type of improvement I think we’ll be competitive and have a good season.”