Navy Vets get two points

The Wood­stock Navy Vets won and lost over the week­end to con­tinue to hold third place

Sentinel-Review (Woodstock) - - SPORTS - GREG COLGAN gcol­gan@postmedia.com twit­ter.com/ Gre­gatWSR

As the Ayr Cen­ten­ni­als’ Macken­zie Kemp held the puck at the hash marks be­tween the two face-off cir­cles in the Wood­stock Navy Vets’ zone, there was a pause that seemed like an eter­nity.

Af­ter be­ing left alone in front of the net, Kemp was fed a pass past a Vets de­fence­man and left alone in front of net. In the two sec­onds he held the puck, it felt as two days had gone by be­fore he let go a wrist shot that beat Vets goalie Mike Har­ri­son blocker side.

That shot led Ayr to the rare 1-0 over­time win, but se­cured what felt like an in­evitabil­ity as the Cen­ten­ni­als largely con­trolled the ex­tra frame be­fore Kemp’s shot found the back of the net with 2:10 left in over­time.

“It’s a tough way to lose a hockey game,” Wood­stock head coach Matt Pa­ton said. “We’ll take credit for that (loss) as a coach­ing staff. It’s a tough change at the end (from five-on-five to three-on-three). It is what it is. Our guys were tired and they scored. It’s three-on­three hockey, so there’s al­ways a lot of chances. The kids played well tonight.

“Our goalie was un­be­liev­able tonight. We’ve got two good goalies. It’s the best sce­nario for a coach­ing staff,” he added. “They can both keep us ev­ery game.”

Ayr’s win kept the Navy Vets win­less against the Cen­ten­ni­als since Ju­nior C and D amal­ga­mated for the 2013-14 sea­son. Since then, the Vets have gone 0-22 against the strong­est team in Ju­nior C over the past four years.

Since Ayr dropped down to Ju­nior C, the Navy Vets have been un­able to crack a po­tent Cen­ten­ni­als ros­ter that have won back-to-back Sch­malz Cups. While ru­mours run ram­pant over Ayr’s past and present ros­ter con­struc­tion, the Cen­ten­ni­als have re­gained first place in the Do­herty Di­vi­sion with a 7-2 record, de­spite a slew of grad­u­ates and play­ers de­part­ing be­cause of the new rule lim­it­ing play­ers with Ju­nior B ex­pe­ri­ence, com­monly be­com­ing known as the Ayr rule.

While Ayr has come back some­what to earth over their near un­beat­able teams the past two years, they’ve still mounted wins and re­main a favourite for a top three fin­ish in the di­vi­sion.

The two teams went score­less through the first 60 min­utes, de­spite both earn­ing scor­ing chances. How­ever, as the fi­nal sec­onds ticked off in the third, the Cen­ten­ni­als slowly grew their on­ice ad­van­tage in qual­ity chances and con­tin­ued it to the ex­tra frame.

The over­time frame high­lighted the dif­fer­ence of the nor­mal fiveon-five as three-on-three took over the Olympic-size ice, giv­ing it a recre­ation hockey feel as odd man rushes and back-and-forth hockey took over from the nor­mal de­fen­sive style game teams de­pend on.

“It changes it a lot. It’s tough to coach three-on-three. You maybe skate hard up and down once and then you’re done. You can’t stay out there and hide like you do at five-on-five, wait­ing for your chances. It changes out there, es­pe­cially on the big sheet,” Pa­ton said. “I don’t care if you’re an NHLer, you skate up and down once and you’re done at that point.

“You want short shifts, but it’s eas­ier said than done … I’m proud of our team,” he added. “We played our asses off. It was two good teams duk­ing it out.”

In the third, the Vets had mul­ti­ple chances on end­ing their fu­til­ity streak against Ayr. While in the pre­vi­ous two years, the Cen­ten­ni­als had iced a largely Ju­nior B ex­pe­ri­enced squad, this year’s ver­sion looked beat­able, but Ayr goalie Ryan Baux made saves when he needed and puck luck es­caped the Navy Vets.

The Vets buzzed Ayr’s net for much of the third, as the Cen­ten­ni­als re­turned the favour be­fore tak­ing con­trol the lat­ter part of the third and in over­time.

The Navy Vets have main­tained their po­ten­tial through the first month of the sea­son as they hold third place, in a sea­son where they en­tered with ex­pec­ta­tions of a top four fin­ish.

Through the early part of the sea­son, with the quar­ter mark still two weeks away, Pa­ton said they’re con­tin­u­ing to im­prove with each week.

“We’re one of the bet­ter teams and we can learn from this. We know we can com­pete with the top half of the league. We can learn from it and move on and move for­ward … We told the kids af­ter­wards that they played hard and I thought we were the bet­ter team, but we didn’t come out with the win … The sun’s go­ing to come up to­mor­row and we’ll al­ways play an­other game.”

Their pair of week­end games were the first set in the sec­ond month of the five-month-long reg­u­lar sea­son. Pa­ton echoed his thought the goal is ul­ti­mately to im­prove with each game to be set for the play­offs in Fe­bru­ary.

“It’s a long year. It’s a process. You’re not go­ing to be your best ver­sion at game six. You’re work­ing to­wards be­ing the best go­ing into the play­offs,” he said. “I think the team’s come to­gether nicely and they’re a good group. Right now we’ll look at dif­fer­ent line com­bi­na­tions to find the right setup, but they’re work­ing hard and show­ing up and buy­ing into our sys­tems. We’re only go­ing to get bet­ter.”

•• • •

Af­ter their 1-0 loss to Ayr the night be­fore, Wood­stock re­bounded with a 4-2 vic­tory against the Paris Moun­ties.

Lu­cas Psenicka opened the scor­ing at 9:25 of the first, with Jamie Rogg get­ting the as­sist. Austin Richard­son made it 2-0 at 12:35, with Psenicka and Josh Wright as­sist­ing. The Moun­ties made it 2-1 be­fore the end of the pe­riod and Matt Pat­ton tied the game for Paris early in the sec­ond. War­ren Gor­man re­turned Wood­stock’s lead at 13:16 as Cam Les­lie and Chris Jensen picked up as­sists. Justin Elms added an in­sur­ance goal at 4:34 in the third when he scored on the power play af­ter Dy­lan Wet­t­laufer and Austin Sine as­sisted.

Keaghan Brett made 23 saves for the Navy Vets and Sam Roy stopped 18 for Paris.

The Navy Vets next game is Fri­day when they host the Moun­ties at 7:45 p.m. They visit the Welles­ley Ap­ple­jacks Oct. 14.

GREG COLGAN/SEN­TINEL-RE­VIEW

The puck flies by Ayr Cen­ten­ni­als goalie Ryan Baux with Cen­ten­ni­als and Wood­stock Navy Vets play­ers in front dur­ing their Pro­vin­cial Ju­nior Hockey League game in Wood­stock on Fri­day. Wood­stock lost 1-0 in over­time, but won Saturday 4-2 against the Paris Moun­ties.

GREG COLGAN/SEN­TINEL-RE­VIEW

Ayr’z Hud­son Michaelis, right, goes in alone on Wood­stock Navy Vets Mike Har­ri­son dur­ing their Pro­vin­cial Ju­nior Hockey League game in Wood­stock on Fri­day. Wood­stock lost 1-0 in over­time, but won Saturday 4-2 against the Paris Moun­ties.

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