Junior Canadians Edge Niagara Falls
Welland coach Keith Osborne put the credit elsewhere for the Canucks making the game interesting.
“I thought we played well in the second period and had a 3-0 lead and then the refs decided they were going to try and even the game out,” he said. “Then we got into penalty trouble and they scored a couple of power play goals.”
And while Welland was out-shot 13-10 in the third period, many of the Canucks shots came from the perimeter and Welland goalie Jeffrey Heartwell was needed for only a couple of big stops.
“In the third period, we locked down the shop and the boys played really well,” Osborne said. “They followed the system and we were able to hold on to the victory.”
Welland will look to end the series Thursday night on their home ice.
“They’re tough, they’re physical and as much rest you can get in any series no matter who you are playing is going to be better for the body and the mind,” Osborne said. “We will see what happens on Thursday.”
Welland Gets Oscar
And the Academy Award for best director in a hockey game goes to … Keith Osborne.
The Welland Junior Canadians head coach had the junior B team following his script for all but 10 minutes on Oscar night. Sunday’s performance earned the Youngs Insurance Junior Canadians rave reviews from an announced crowd of 1,046 at Welland Arena and a 4-2 win that gives them a 2-1 lead in a best-of-seven Golden Horseshoe Conference quarter-final series against the Niagara Falls Canucks.
“I thought we played well for 50 minutes and then we forgot all about keeping the puck moving, but we pulled through it,” Osborne said after third-seeded Welland was able to maintain a lead for the first time in the opening-round series against No. 6 seed Niagara Falls.
An inability to hold two one-goal leads set the stage for a 3-2 loss in overtime to Niagara Falls in the series opener, and Welland came back to win the second game 4-2, also in sudden death, after blowing a two-goal lead late in the third period.
Osborne said difficulty playing with a lead is a facet of the game young teams learn over time.
“We have a young team and they sometimes don’t play the system when they’re ahead. They forget to do the simple things,” he said.
Welland also regained home-ice advantage with first victory in regulation in the series, but the one-time NHLer isn’t look past Tuesday night’s Game 4 at Gale Centre in Niagara Falls.
“We haven’t win anything yet. It takes four games to win this series. It’s just nice to win tonight.”
Welland Tie Series
Brayden Stortz may have been the smallest player on the ice Friday, but stood tall when the dust settled at the Gale Centre.
Stortz scored his second goal of the game, in overtime, to give the Welland Junior Canadians a 4-3 win over the Niagara Falls Canucks and a 1-1 tie in their GOJHL Golden Horseshoe Conference playoff series.
The third game of the best-of-seven set is back in Welland Sunday, with the fourth game at the Gale Centre Tuesday.
Stortz slapped in a rebound at the 8:26 mark of overtime for the winner as the Junior Canadians blew a two-goal lead, allowing the Canucks to send the game into overtime with 50 seconds left in regulation.
"It (the puck) just crossed the net," the 5-foot-8, 165-pound forward said of the winning goal. "It was there, I threw it on net and it found a way in.
"Any shot on net is good — always!"
Stortz also gave credit to goaltender Jeff Heartwell, who played a solid game until Welland got untracked and took a 3-1 lead into the final five minutes of the game, only to have Cole Vinnai send it into overtime with 50 seconds left in regulation.
"He (Heartwell) had 50-something saves last game and was solid this game, too," the 18-year-old Stortz said. "He's been solid for us all year."
As has Stortz, who had a respectable 22 goals and 43 points in 48 regular-season games.
"He worked hard tonight," Junior Canadians head coach Keith Osborne said. "He definitely wanted to win this game and showed it tonight."
Osborne wasn't surprised the Canucks came out tough, even though Welland won the regular-season series 4-2.
Welland Takes Third Palce
The Welland Junior Canadians (28-15-6) outscored the visiting Thorold Blackhawks 3-1 in the second period Sunday night on the way to a 4-2 victory in Greater Ontario Junior Hockey League Golden Horseshoe Conference action.
The win clinched third place for Welland, while Thorold (28-17-4) ended up in fourth. Welland will host Niagara Falls in the first round of the playoffs and Thorold will host Ancaster.
Trailing 4-2 heading into the third period, the Blackhawks outshot Welland 24-5 in the final 20 minutes but couldn’t get a goal on Welland goalie Jeffrey Heartwell.
Adam Mataya scored twice for Welland and singles were notched by Brayden Stortz and Bryan Komasara. Joe Mitchell and Owen Sobchak replied for Thorold.