HUNTSVILLE - An overtime goal on Sunday helped the Huntsville Otters avoid sole possession of last place in the Georgian Bay Mid-Ontario Junior C Hockey League.
Jack Campbell’s marker at 2:24 of the extra frame gave the Otters a 5-4 win over the Schomberg Cougars and effectively tied the Otters, Cougars and Fergus Devils for last in the league, each with six points.
However, both the Cougars and the Otters have a slight edge in winning percentage (.300) over the Devils (.273). The win over the Cougars gave Huntsville a 3-7 record, while Schomberg lost in extra time for the fourth time this year, for a record of 1-5-4. Fergus has a 3-8 mark.
“We didn’t play our best game of the year, but we managed to squeak out two points,” said head coach Monty Clouthier, who was back behind the bench after a three game absence. “I like the fact that we didn’t give up when they came back on us but I didn’t like giving up the two-goal lead. We need to have that killer instinct when we get up by a couple of goals.”
Huntsville could have come out of the weekend with both the Cougars and the Devils in its rearview mirror if the Otters could have beaten the Devils Friday night in Fergus. But the hosts were able to secure a 3-2 win over Huntsville, which was the team’s third straight loss.
Huntsville took an early 2-0 lead in Fergus on goals by Campbell and Brodie Muckler before Fergus managed to cut into the lead with a goal before the end of the first.
It was the Devils’ game after that as they shut the Otters’ scorers down for the next two periods while popping two more goals past goalie Landan Peleikis for the win.
The Otters staked themselves to a 2-0 lead over the Cougars on Sunday, a gap that lasted until early in the second when a turnover at the Huntsville blueline led to a Schomberg player going in all alone on goalie Nathan Pokocky and beating the netminder to make the score 2-1.
The Cougars got two more past Pokocky during a three-minute span in the middle of the second period to take the lead from the Otters.
But the Otters regained the lead in the late stages of the second. Jay Dix did yeoman’s work to shake off two Cougars and pass it back to an open Ben Muckler in the slot. Muckler simply redirected the pack past the outstretched Schomberg goalie into the empty side of the cage for a 3-3 tie and his second of the game.
The Muckler-Muckler-Dix line was the team’s best in the game, and combined for 10 points in the two weekend games.
“That line was put together while I was gone and they are working very well together. They have done very well together and their defensive play has been outstanding,” said Clouthier.
However, a miscommunication between Pokocky and his defence led to the tying goal by Schomberg about one minute after the Huntsville goal.
The rookie netminder, who faced 40 shots in the game, nonchalantly left the puck behind his net after a dump-in shot by the Cougars, apparently thinking his defenceman was coming back to get the puck.
But a Schomberg player was able to get the puck first and pass it out front to a wide-open teammate, who shot it past a startled Pokocky for a 4-4 tie.
Clouthier did praise Pokocky for his work, especially after he was pressed into action at the last minute when Peleikis couldn’t play due to an issue with his contact.
“He played a very good game and was good and solid. He made some big saves when he had to and kept us in the game.”
The Otters have only one game this weekend, when they travel to Midland to take on the North Division-leading Flyers.
The last time these two teams met, the Flyers skated away with a 9-0 win on Sept. 21. Clouthier said the game will be a true test of his team’s character.
“I would say (Midland) and Alliston are the top teams in the league this year. It will be a true test to see how the boys come out and redeem themselves.”