HUNTSVILLE - Twenty minutes.
A single period was all that stood between the Huntsville Otters and a win in Game 3 of their best-of-seven Georgian Bay Mid Ontario Junior C Hockey League’s quarter-final series with the Alliston Hornets.
Huntsville was leading the game 4-1 heading into the third Sunday night, looking to make the series 2-1 with the defending league and regular season champs.
However, it would be the Hornets who would orchestrate the upset this evening, as the home team splurged for five unanswered goals in the final frame – including one into an empty net – to erase the three-goal deficit, take a stranglehold on the series and break the hearts of the Otters and their fans all within 20 minutes.
Now, instead of looking at a game that could have tied the series, the Otters are hoping tonight’s game at the Don Lough Arena will be one last chance for redemption and an attempt to stay alive rather than see the Hornets sweep them out of the league playoffs in four straight games.
Still, Otters’ head coach Monty Clouthier said he is proud of his team, especially after Sunday’s effort.
“We just ran out of gas in the third period and didn’t have enough bodies. We just had nine forwards and four defence,” Clouthier said of Sunday’s game, adding that two players, Carter Tracey (shooting puck over glass, game misconduct) and Jack Campbell (head contact, fighting major) were each out serving one-game suspensions for infractions from Saturday’s game.
Clouthier said that two other players decided not to come to Sunday’s game and indicated that they are not welcome back for tonight’s contest.
“Their stuff is in garbage bags now,” he said bluntly.
The series started off as many hockey pundits expected, with the Hornets, who finished 54 points ahead of the Otters in the regular season standings, taking the first two games of the series by scores of 9-1 in the opener in Alliston last Wednesday and 11-3 at the Lock on Saturday.
Brodie Muckler’s two goals in the first period of Sunday’s game gave Huntsville a 2-1 lead heading into the intermission.
Goals then by Ben Muckler and Josh Barkey in the second staked Huntsville to a 4-1 lead after 40 minutes.
However, the Hornets came out firing in the third, throwing 21 pucks at Huntsville goalie Tye Greschuk, scoring five times to snatch victory from Huntsville.
Clouthier praised Greschuk for his work on Sunday, as well as that of his skaters for their efforts despite the loss. He said that the Otters showed their character in Sunday’s game and that the Hornets can expect a team on Wednesday that will not go out easily.
“We frustrated them on Sunday and forced them into a lot of stupid penalties. We beat them in the first two periods with hard work, but we didn’t have enough in the third to compete with them. The players could have mailed it in on Sunday and not even thought about competing. We are looking forward to Wednesday night. The players realize now (Alliston) can be beat. We aren’t going away quietly.”
Tracey scored the lone Huntsville goal in the 9-1 loss. Tracey, Jay Dix and Erik Macpherson replied for the Otters during the 11-3 defeat at home before 146 fans.
Clouthier said that the team will call up some midget players for tonight’s game to fill out the roster.