GRAVENHURST - The South Muskoka Shield split their weekend games but made great strides forward addressing a few shortcomings.
Taking their Oct. 26 home game 10-4 over the Mattawa Voyageurs but dropping the Oct. 28 road game at the Rama Aces, head coach and general manager Dal Telford knows he needs more consistency from all phases of the game, but saw vast improvement on special teams. The victory over Mattawa included three power-play goals by the Shield and better still, two short-handed markers by the newly acquired Larry McShane, who was recently picked up from Elliot Lake.
“Larry brings some great speed up front and allows us to be a bit more aggressive (while playing short-handed),” Telford said. “Special teams and the power play was something we really keyed on in practice last week. We made a few tweaks and it’s seemed to have paid off.”
It was all special teams in the first period Oct. 26 with Mattawa opening the scoring in that game with a short-handed goal, followed by two power-play markers by the Shield. McShane picked up one of those on his way to a four-goal night while the Voyageurs scored on the power play late in the opening frame for a 2-2 game headed into the second.
Andrey Novikov and McShane then gave their club the lead again early in the second on two straight short-handed goals before Mattawa could capitalize on their man advantage for a short-lived 4-3, tight contest. The Shield added three more, including a power-play marker by Novikov to take a 7-3 lead into the third.
South Muskoka added three more even-strength goals while giving up one for a 10-4 final that saw McShane earn first-star honours.
The Shield’s game against Rama Oct. 28 was a fast-paced match with few chances for special teams to excel. Rama scored the lone goal in the opening period and added one in the early goings of the second before the Shield notched their first with time running short for a 2-1 game heading into the third.
Rama went up 3-1 before the Shield responded with two, including a power-play marker by Novikov to knot the game at three-all with about eight minutes left to play.
Rama scored late, forcing the Shield to pull their goalie, which led to an empty-netter and a 5-3 victory for the Aces.
“We played well enough to win that one I thought,” Telford said. “We’re still having some breakdowns in our own defensive end that we need to address, but you can see there’s a lot more chemistry and trust between the guys now with every game we play.”
Friday night, Nov. 2 at 8 p.m., the Shield plays host to Powassan for those two clubs’ first matchup of the year. The following night, Nov. 3, the Bracebridge Phantoms will welcome the Shield back at 8 p.m. for their third tilt against each other this season.