One-point for­ward

Val­ley goal­tender blocks 83 shots in match against Mi­ramichi

Annapolis Valley Register - - SPORTS - BY MATT LIT­TLE

The Val­ley ju­nior A Wild­cats fell 5–4 in over­time against the Mi­ramichi Timberwolves Feb. 12 in Ber­wick, but af­ter the game no one was talk­ing about the fi­nal score.

In­stead, fo­cus was on Wild­cats goal­tender Ja­cob Ste­wart who put in one of the best goal­tend­ing per­for­mances in Mar­itime Hockey League his­tory, mak­ing 83 saves in the con­test.

Ste­wart, a 17-year-old from Quis­pam­sis, New Brunswick, was ac­quired at the MHL trade dead­line from the Truro Bearcats as part of the deal that sent Nic Blan­chard to Truro. He be­gan the year with the Blainville-bois­briand Ar­mada of the Quebec Ma­jor Ju­nior Hockey League and played a back-up role be­fore be­ing sent down to the MHL to get more ice time and ex­pe­ri­ence.

Wild­cats head coach Nick Gree­nough says Ste­wart’s in­cred­i­ble per­for­mance showed why he be­gan the year play­ing ma­jor ju­nior hockey.

“We got one point on the back of Ja­cob Ste­wart and we’re re­ally proud of him. You give up 83 shots, and he gave us a chance to win. He made some huge saves for us.”

“This is the per­fect sit­u­a­tion for him,” says Gree­nough. “He’s go­ing to see the rub­ber, and he’s em­brac­ing it. I ex­pect the Q will be knock­ing on his door again very shortly.”

De­spite be­ing out­shot 60–16, Val­ley was lead­ing the game 4–1 af­ter two pe­ri­ods. Ju­nior B call-up Ste­wart Ken­nie had two goals to lead the of­fense with sin­gles from Dono­van Re­hill and Tarek Paran­ica.

Play­ing with an­other short bench due to in­juries, the Wild­cats ran out of steam as the Eastlink North Di­vi­sion lead­ing Timberwolves came back to tie the game in the third pe­riod. Brook­lyn, Nova Sco­tia na­tive Makail Parker scored the over­time win­ner for Mi­ramichi.

Gree­nough once again praised his group of just 13 play­ers who nearly knocked off one of the top clubs in the league.

“Every­one played well. I said to the boys af­ter the game, ear­lier in the year we were look­ing for char­ac­ter and it was nowhere to be found. Right now our guys are show­ing up, they’re com­pet­ing, they’re play­ing well. Th­ese guys are learn­ing to play hard and my hat’s off to all of them. It was fun to be a part of,” Gree­nough said.

“Ste­wart Ken­nie had an un­real game. It’s nice to see a kid like that be able to get on the score sheet and score some big goals. He’s com­ing up and buy­ing into the pro­gram, and could be play­ing him­self into a spot here next year.”

The ju­nior A Wild­cats have just one game com­ing up this week­end, a Feb. 19 af­ter­noon con­test on the road in Dieppe against the Com­man­dos. De­spite a tough sched­ule to end the sea­son that in­cludes games against most the MHL’S top teams - in­clud­ing Pic­tou County, Amherst, Yar­mouth and Dieppe - Gree­nough says he’s look­ing for­ward to the test.

“We’ve got a win against Dieppe this year. It’s go­ing to be fun to see some of our for­mer Wild­cats and play against them. Right now, we’re tak­ing it day by day. Just show­ing up and com­pet­ing. If we have our com­pete level each day, the re­sults will fol­low.”

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