‘Being an underdog isn’t the worst case’
Valley Wildcats dominate home opener, shut out on the road
The Valley junior A Wildcats opened the Maritime Hockey League season with a home-ice win.
Valley took an early lead, and kept their cool when things got close, before rolling to a 6–2 victory over St. Stephen, New Brunswick’s County Aces Sept. 15 in Berwick.
Matt Warner led the attack with two goals, including a penalty shot. Riley Macinnis and Tarek Paranica each added a goal and an assist. Nick Cullen and Makail Parker also scored for Valley in the victory, while Annapolis Royal’s Cole Mclaren made 41 saves in net.
“There was a lot of energy in the building, and we got off to a good start which helped a lot,” says new Wildcats head coach Travis Young.
Valley went up 3–0, but the Aces closed the gap to 3–2 early in the third period. Young praised the composure of his young squad to turn the game back in their favour.
“I thought our guys really stuck with it. There was no panic on the bench. Luckily, we were rewarded for it later on in the period.”
Loss on the road
The next night in Yarmouth, the Wildcats were shut down, falling 3–0 against the Mariners. Leif Hertz stopped all 33 Wildcat shots.
Valley had nine power plays in the game, including four straight to start the contest, but couldn’t capitalize. Yarmouth’s special teams unit stepped up, scoring two short-handed goals 44 seconds apart, and Valley was unable to come back.
“Power play was probably the difference in the game …,” said Young. “You don’t capitalize there and on top of it you give them two; that’s a tough thing to do against a team like that.”
Despite the power-play troubles, Young says there are lots of positives to build on going forward.
“I liked a lot of things about our game. I though we worked hard, and competed well. We haven’t had this group together for very long,” he said. “(The power play) wasn’t very good, but we’ll spend some time on it and re-group for next weekend.”
Defenceman Drew Packman, who was acquired from the Pictou County Weeks Crushers during the summer, also likes what he sees out of his teammates after the opening weekend.
“We have a lot of good young guys, and they’re only getting better. With the year the Wildcats had last year, people probably don’t expect us to do very well, but the boys in the room all believe, the coaches are good, and we’re all excited for this year,” Packman said.
“Being an underdog isn’t the worst case,” he added with a smirk.
The junior A Wildcats have a tough test ahead this weekend, playing three games in three nights. On Sept. 21, they visit the Pictou County Weeks Crushers in New Glasgow, then return home the next night to host the Amherst Ramblers at the Kings Mutual Century Centre in Berwick, before hitting the road again Sept. 23 to play the defending MHL champion Truro Bearcats.
“It’ll be a good measuring stick to see where we’re at. Going into Pictou on Thursday, we need to get a good start, and set the tone. We’re looking forward to it,” Young said.
Valley defenceman Ben Varga goes after the puck.