HUNTSVILLE - It may not have been a first for junior hockey, but it certainly was a rare occurrence.
TOGETHER FOR A CAUSE:.
The Huntsville Otters, the Midland Flyers and members of the Canadian Breast Cancer Foundation pose at centre ice for a group shot before Sunday’s game between the Otters and the Flyers.
Devon Garner/ Debbie Bradley Photography
Prior to the start of Sunday’s game between the Midland Flyers and the Huntsville Otters, the two Georgian Bay Mid Ontario Junior C Hockey League rivals posed together for a group shot at centre ice with members of the Canadian Breast Cancer Foundation.
The event was part of the Pink In The Rink fundraiser hosted this day by the Otters. Items were sold throughout the game, and the Huntsville team wore pink jerseys for the game that were auctioned off to help fund breast cancer research.
But once the photo was taken, the two North Division enemies renewed hostilities, which ended in a 9-2 shellacking by the Flyers, handing the Otters their second lopsided defeat of the week in the past three games.
The week started off Thursday with a 9-3 drubbing by the Cougars in Schomberg before the Otters were able to win a close defensive 2-1 battle with the Kings in Penetang Friday night.
Huntsville is now 4-10 for the season, last place in the league’s North Division, and just two points ahead of Fergus for last place overall.
“We keep beating ourselves,” said head coach Monty Clouthier. “I would say we beat ourselves more than teams beat us. We cough up the puck at the wrong time, we lose the little battles for the puck, there’s missed assignments ... that’s what’s killing us right now.”
Huntsville was in the game against the Cougars on Thursday, trailing only 3-2 going into the third. But the hosts were less than hospitable as they exploded for six unanswered goals in that period to salt the game away.
Erik Macpherson with a powerplay goal in the first opened the scoring in that game, followed by a Connor Scott goal at the end of the frame. Scott’s goal made the score 2-2 at that time.
Goalie Nathan Pokocky faced 42 shots in that game.
Clouthier said the team went into the game missing two key defencemen in JD Stern and Jack Campbell, along with captain Ben Muckler, for suspensions resulting from the Otters’ fight-filled affair the previous week against Midland. D-man Brice Parsons was out with an injured shoulder.
Clouthier said the team was able to move forward Josh Barkey back to the blueline and call up some midget players for the game, but the team ran out of gas in the third period.
“We only had three lines for the game,” he said. “We were depleted but that is still no excuse.”
Netminder Landan Peleikis was the story of the next Huntsville game, stopping 43 shots to pick up the win over Penetang on Friday.
“Landan played a hell of a game for us. The boys also came out and skated hard and we got the lead, and were able to hold it. That is a first for us this year.”
The Otters did all their scoring in the first. Jay Dix scored just 52 seconds in and Shawn Fraser chipped in one at 7:19 to stake Huntsville to an early 2-0 lead.
The Kings were able to solve Peleikis early in the third, but that was as close as Penetang got.
The Otters were down 2-0 after one period of play at the Don Lough Arena Sunday, before a shorthanded marker by Josh Barkey and one by Scott drew both teams into a 2-2 tie.
That tie lasted less than two minutes as the Flyers, now 9-5, scored a shorthanded goal less than two minutes after Scott tied the game, then reeled off six more unanswered goals past Peleikis to win the game and cement their lead over the Kings for first in the North Division.
The Otters now statistically have the worst defence in the loop, having surrendered 86 goals for an average of more than six goals against per game. Twenty-seven of those goals in the Huntsville net came in the last four games.
Huntsville is also the most penalized team in the league with 450 minutes in 14 games. Erin has the second-most minutes with 393 in 13 games.
Clouthier said that there are times when his team’s “want for the puck,” is not there, and that inevitably costs them goals, which also results in some on-ice discipline issues.
“They want to win, but they have to learn at this level you just can’t give up for two or three minute because the next thing you know you are down by a lot. They’ve got to learn to rebound whenever they get down a bit and get more want for the puck. Midland showed us that Sunday and that’s why they won.”
Huntsville has only one game this week, a Thursday road game in Stayner to face the Siskins.