After a tough loss to the Halifax Titans in their opening game Monday night at the Telus Cup national major midget hockey championship, the St. John’s Privateers made the most of their first shot at redemption, collecting a 5-3 win over the London Knights Tuesday night before a crowd of about 2,000 at Mile One Centre.
“We played a Privateers style of hockey, keeping it simple and sticking to our systems,” St. John’s coach Wally Bray said after the game.
A night after giving up four power-play goals on five chances, the Privateers’ penalty killers were much-improved, limiting the Knights to a single man-advantage tally.
“We tried to keep them on the outside and it worked,” Bray said.
The London power-play goal came in the third period after a Telus Cup rarity — a fight.
It was the Privateers’ Dylan Joy and the Knights’ Brett Dyck who elected to drop the gloves.
Day suspended for tourney
Early in the fight, with both players tussling for position, Joy pulled Dyck’s helmet from his head and tossed it. Once the scrap was over, referee Justin Day slapped both players with fighting majors and game and gross misconducts, but Day also gave Joy a match penalty for the helmet-throwing, ending his Telus Cup (he’s automatically suspended) and putting the Knights on a five-minute power play.
“If he got one for throwing the helmet, what did he get the other one for?” Bray asked.
“I don’t know how a guy can end up with a match and a gross. If you tear a guy’s helmet off, the first thing you’re going to do is throw it away because you need your free hand.”
St. John’s was leading 4-2 at the time and Privateers’ player of the game Justin O’Reilly, who scored his second goal of the tournament Tuesday, admits to being nervous about giving up the lead.
“Once they got that five-minute power play, they really turned it on,” he said. “ We didn’t know what to do other than kill it off any way we could.”
St. John’s killed the major, but surrendered a power play goal near the 10-minute mark with Brandon Pye off for cross checking.
Momentum looked to still be moving back towards the Knights until Cale Duberry of the Ontario champions was called for interference on the Privateers Danny Wicks, who got an extra measure of revenge when he scored the Privateers’ fifth goal with four minutes to play.
With just over two minutes remaining, and the Knights’ focus leaning more towards landing big hits than scoring two quick goals, Bray called a timeout.
“They had two men in the box and we had a two-goal lead. I needed everyone to settle down and not get in to any penalty trouble.”
The Privateers weren’t perfect Tuesday, but both Bray and O’Reilly contend they weren’t far off.
“In the first (period), we made some mistakes and they scored a couple of goals,” O’Reilly explained. “We went up the middle a few times when we shouldn’t have and never got out of our zone a few times. But other than that, we were really good.”
Bray felt all four lines played well, but he’d like to see more scoring outside of the Marcus Power, Wicks, O’Reilly line, which produced four of the team’s five markers Tuesday and two of three against Halifax.
“I’d love to start seeing fellas like (Liam) Hynes, Pye, (Marcus) Cuomo, and (Connor) Donaghey chipping in and take some pressure off (the top line),” Bray suggested.
Next up for Privateers: Vancouver
Between the pipes, Matt Jenkins stopped 30 of 33 shots and will start today’s game against the Vancouver North West Giants, the only undefeated team in the tourney.
“They’re a very good, very deep team,” Bray says of the Pacific region champs who scored 18 goals in their first two games, including a dozen by the team’s top line of Sam Reinhart, Jason Houck and Alex Kerfoot.
“But we’re the home team, so we should be able to match them off.”
Game time tonight is 7 p.m.
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