Shield grabs two wins
GRAVENHURST - It was two wins for the Shield this past weekend, but despite the upward trend after a slow start to the season, general manager Dal Telford sees great room for improvement.
On Friday night, Nov. 2, the South Muskoka Shield played host to the Powassan Eagles, playing a nearly flawless game and pounding out an 8-0 shutout win. Tanner Swift made 25 saves to pick up the win in net while the offence scored four goals in the first frame to erase the Eagles confidence early.
“Powassan took (first-place, undefeated) Bradford Rattlers to overtime and have played very well against some of the better teams in the league,” Telford said. “By no means did we take them lightly and I did not expect an eight-nothing shutout.
“The frustrating part of our weekend is that we played stellar defence Friday night but all the cracks showed through on Saturday night,” he added.
Playing their closest rivals, the Bracebridge Phantoms, on the road Saturday night, it was another offensive outpouring for the Shield. The club put up nine points in an overtime victory, handing the Bracebridge team only its fourth loss of the season and the second loss to the Shield in their three matches so far this season.
“But the reverse side of that is that we also allowed eight points; that’s something we have to address in practice this week,” Telford said. “It looks like offensively we’ll be fine as the season goes on, but right now we’ve got a lot of inconsistencies on the defensive side.”
The Nov. 3 game was a wild affair, with the Phantoms posting an early three-goal lead before Shield forward Ryan Miller got his club on the board halfway through the first, followed quickly by Larry McShane, who made it 3-2 with plenty of time left. Bracebridge only allowed 16 seconds off the clock from McShane’s marker before remounting a two-point advantage, but that too evaporated as South Muskoka responded with two before the end of the opening frame for a 4-4 game heading into the second.
“It was one of those weird nights for both teams I think,” Telford said. “It seemed like no one could grab hold of the upper hand for very long.”
The second period was equally back and forth, with each team potting three goals apiece, leaving both teams’ defence chasing the puck with out much luck.
A 7-7 game heading into the third finally saw the blueliners buckle down a bit and the scoring trend slowed. Bracebridge broke the knot about halfway through the final frame on a power play goal, but that too was matched by the Shield, with a late power play goal of their own to send an 8-8 game into overtime.
Another period in and seemingly fresher, the defence on both sides began to rule the game and only three total shots were sent the goalies’ way. It was the Shield, however, who finally broke through, scoring with only a couple of minutes left in the extra period for a 9-8, tough-fought win.
“Seven of those goals (against the Shield) came on missed assignments in our own end. That’s the sort of thing we’re going to have to address as we move on,” Telford said.
With the two weekend wins, the Shield now have an 8-5 record, with one overtime loss; good enough for sixth place in the Greater Metro Junior A Hockey League.
This coming week, the Shield take their show on the road Nov. 9 for a game against the Toronto Attack, followed by an 8 p.m. home game Nov. 10 against the Bradford Bulls.