HUNTSVILLE - With only seven games left in the Georgian Bay Mid Ontario Junior C Hockey League season, the Huntsville Otters are focusing on a better 2013 than what they experienced in 2012.
Huntsville Otters’ goalie Tye Greschuk watches the puck in his zone during his team’s game on Dec. 23 against the Alliston Hornets.
The Otters, currently last in the league, have shown sparks of solid play at times in December, and won three of 10 games prior to the Christmas break.
Huntsville went into the holiday break winning one of three games.
The Otters sandwiched a 5-1 win over Caledon on Dec. 22 at the Don Lough Arena, one day after a close 6-5 loss in Fergus to the Devils on Dec. 21 and one day before an 11-2 hammering at the hands of the visiting Alliston Hornets on Dec. 23.
Games on Dec. 27 in Schomberg and on Dec. 30 at home to Stayner were too late for the holiday publication deadline.
Huntsville took a 2-0 lead to the late stage of the first period against Fergus, courtesy of goals by Brodie Muckler and Casey Groomes, when the host Devils scored to make the count 2-1 in favour of the Otters.
The Devils took the lead back late in the second with two goals, but Brandon Quo Vadis scored to knot the score at three apiece heading into the third.
Fergus restored its two-goal cushion with a pair before the midway point of the third, but the Otters rallied with goals from the sticks of Carter Tracey and Ben Muckler.
But a Fergus goal with less than two minutes in regulation salted the game away for the home team.
Huntsville head coach Monty Clouthier was upset with the officiating after the game, saying that his team lost due to calls on two goals.
“We should have won. That was the worst officiated game I had seen all year. We had the play overall over them. We had a goal called back on us and they got a goal that plainly hit the crossbar, but (the officials) counted it. It was just one of those games, with bad penalty calls both ways.”
As of last Thursday, Fergus was five points up on Huntsville for last place overall in the league.
With seven games left on the schedule, the Otters’ goal is to surpass Fergus to avoid last place and secure a better match up when the preliminary playoff round begins, according to Clouthier.
“We want to get ahead of Fergus. Every team makes the playoffs and plays a small series,” he said.
Huntsville earned its weekend win on a rough, penalty-filled contest that featured more than 140 minutes in penalties whistled against the Otters and the Golden Hawks.
Despite receiving 60 minutes to 82 minutes for the Hawks, Huntsville made the most of its opportunities with the man advantage, scoring three times on four chances.
Clouthier again took exception to the officiating. “They were calling misconduct after misconduct both ways. Both teams were undisciplined at times, but I still can’t understand that officiating.”
When the two sides weren’t sending players to the penalty box for head contact, fighting and tripping, Huntsville, buoyed by the strong work of goalie Alex Ebner, allowed the Hawks the courtesy of the game’s first goal at 2:27 of the first on the power play.
But that would be all the scoring for the Hawks, who suffered their second defeat of the season at the hands of the Otters. Huntsville scored twice in the first on goals by Joshua Bullied, then markers in the second by Tracey and Brandon Quan. Shawn Fraser added a third-period goal to end the scoring.
The Otters were little match for the league-leading Hornets on Dec. 23, surrendering leads of 4-0 and 6-2 after the first two periods of play to finish with the 11-2 loss.
Jay Dix, who is battling Tracey for the team’s scoring lead, counted one early in the second to make the score 4-1. Tracey, who has been the team’s hottest scorer of late with 13 points in eight games, scored at the end of the period.
Goalie Tye Greschuk made his first start in weeks in the Alliston game, after spending weeks on the shelf with an injured knee.
Huntsville’s next action is on Jan. 6 when the team hosts Fergus.