‘Battling right to the end’
Wildcats win shootout against Dieppe
There’s no substitute for hard work.
The Valley junior A Wildcats travelled to Dieppe, New Brunswick Feb. 19 and defeated the hometown Commandos 4–3 in a shootout. Valley got the win despite having just 13 players for the game, and being out shot 62–21.
“We were playing with a short line up, and the guys battled,” says Wildcats head coach Nick Greenough. “(Goaltender Jacob) Stewart had a big performance in nets and made some big saves for us. He’s given us an opportunity to win games, and when we’re getting a chance to score, we’re scoring.”
Valley was without five regular starters due to injury and lost more bodies due to the flu, but players stepped up to do what was needed, he added.
The Wildcats twice took the lead on goals from Tarek Paranica and team captain Mitchell Kreis, but Dieppe came back each time to tie the game. Late in the third, Paranica was pulled down behind the net in the offensive zone and no penalty was called. Dieppe came down the ice to score and take the lead with less than two minutes left.
“At one point in our season, our guys would have hung their heads and we would have went the other way,” says Greenough. “But our guys are battling right to the end, and it shows a lot for the character of guys in our room.”
Valley pulled the goaltender for an extra attacker and Brett Tidman scored with 10 seconds left to send the game to overtime. Paranica scored on the final shot in the shootout to give Valley the victory.
“Each night it’s a different guy being a contributer for us right now, which is good to see,” says Greenough. “It’s fun to be behind the bench with this group right now because they’re working hard and they want to compete each night, every minute of the game.”
Greenough says that nevergive-up attitude is exactly what he wants to see in the locker room.
“When you have character on your team, you’re able to win these games and battle through it. In the past we had guys like Dane Moore, Kaden Ruest, Mitchell Jones, Anthony Cardinal... guys like that, those character guys. They led the way for us when the going was tough. We’re excited for our guys right now, and hopefully, we can keep getting some points here the rest of the season.”
Playing spoiler, the junior A Wildcats have points in four of their last six games, and have games with two top clubs this coming weekend in Berwick. Valley plays a rematch against Dieppe Feb. 24 at 7 p.m., and hosts the league-leading Pictou County Feb. 26 at 2 p.m.
“We’ve got a tough schedule coming up, but it’s good. We want to play those top teams,” Greenough says. “It’s a good way to evaluate our players moving forward. Hopefully we’ll have a few more bodies in the lineup this weekend and the points keep coming.”