GRAVENHURST - With two painful losses this past weekend, the South Muskoka Shield won’t likely be able to catch the third-placed Bracebridge Phantoms in the standings before playoffs begin, and will now have to focus on staving off a rushing Powassan club to retain their squeeze on fourth.
South Muskoka Shield's Donny Danroth takes a check into the boards by Bracebridge Phantom Dimitrije Filipovic on Shield home ice Friday night. The Shield fell 6-9 to the Phantoms in the final matchup of the local rivals in the regular season play.
Photo by Richard Coburn
“It was a tough weekend for us for sure,” said Shield general manager and head coach Dallyn Telford. “I think we played well enough both of those games to win but things just didn’t go our way.”
On the night of Jan. 25, the Shield welcomed the Phantoms and a chance to join them at third place in the Greater Metro Junior A Hockey League standings, and by the end of the second period, were in a position to win. The club’s offensive leaders in Donny Danroth and Andrey Novikov put the Shield up 2-0 in the first before the Phantoms drew even on the strength of a late power-play goal and second marker with only four seconds left on the clock.
Knotted at two in the second, Phantom penalties opened the ice for the Shield and Danroth and fellow front-liner Brandon Luksa took advantage to put the Shield up by two again late in the period. The Phantoms, would claw back one before the close of the middle frame on a shorthanded goal, as the bounces began to get away from the Shield.
“They’re a really good club (the Phantoms) but when you’re in a rough patch it just seems like nothing bounces your way,” Telford said. “We’ve been dealing with the injury and flu bug, but there are no excuses; that was a game we needed to win and I don’t think we’re going to be able to catch them now before the end of the (regular) season.”
A close 4-3 Shield advantage to start the third became a four-all tie just 14 seconds in when Phantom Michal Spacek added yet another power-play goal, followed by two straight from Shawn Watson to put Bracebridge up 6-4. By the 10-minute mark, Shield forward Kyle MacDonald would add an unassisted marker, but Bracebridge had more left in the tank and an empty netter iced the game 9-6 in the Phantom’s favour.
The following night was an equally vital game, Jan. 26, when the Shield paid a visit to Powassan, which at the time sat two points back of the Shield for fourth place. In a far more defensive matchup, Powassan took a 1-0 advantage into the second period before the two clubs traded power-play goals for a 2-1 game heading into the third.
Novikov drew the Shield even on an early-period power play and a team hungry for the win kept pressure on but a Powassan marker with only a couple of minutes remaining could not be overcome. The loss means Powassan draws even on the season and the two teams are locked in the standings at fourth place with 44 points each. The Shield have only six games remaining in the regular season and just one home game left, coming this Friday, Feb. 1 at 8 p.m. against the Rama Aces. They will round out that weekend with a trip to Bobcaygeon. Bracebridge, comfortably now in third, has 50 points, a full 20 points back of first-placed Bradford Rattlers, which remain undefeated with a perfect 35-0 record.