Falcons hit full stride in winning boys’ hockey semifinal

Rob Massey, Guelph Sports Journal

FERGUS – The Centre Wellington Falcons gave no doubt that they are in top form when they skated to a 9-1 victory over the Erin Raiders in District 4/10 high school boys’ hockey semifinal play Monday at the Centre Wellington Community Sportsplex.

“Our guys really came to play today,” Centre Wellington coach Murray Skerritt said. “Our guys have struggled a little bit. It’s hard when you go for two weeks and sit off for two weeks, but the boys were ready to play today for sure.”

Centre Wellington appears to have their skating legs after coming through breaks for the Christmas holidays, first semester exams and a week away from game action due to earning a bye in the first round of the playoffs.

“We’ve been working hard at practice,” Centre Wellington forward Luke Hoelscher said. “We’ve been trying to get our systems down 100 per cent and just playing mistake-free hockey.”

The Falcons scored three times in each period while Erin’s goal came midway through the second period.

“I was nervous about these guys. They took us to overtime last time we played them,” Skerritt said. “We scored really late in overtime. Unfortunately for them, they were missing a couple of guys (Monday) which made a big difference. I was pretty nervous for this game because this team’s good. They’re going to do well at CWOSSA (A/AA).”

“They had a short bench so we stayed hard on them and didn’t let up at all the whole game,” Luke Hoelscher said.

Ryan Mueller and Dean Sealey scored twice each for Centre Wellington while single goals were added by Riley Klompmaker, Luke Hoelscher, John Bauman, Kyle Detweiler and Thomas Coulter. Jack Tokarz, Bauman, Klompmaker and Brock Hoelscher each had two assists while Justin Beaulieu, Luke Hoelscher, Jake Malyk, Coulter, Owen Ristov and Mitch Bernier each had one assist.

Trevor Griffiths had an unassisted goal for the Raiders who had 14 players dressed for the match including two goaltenders who both saw time in the game.

The Falcons advance to the league final against the Orangeville Bears Wednesday at Orangeville’s Tony Rose arena.

“It’s a pretty good rivalry between us and Orangeville, that’s for sure,” Skerritt said. “They are good. They’ve kept that team together for a couple of years and they’ve learned how to win and lose – more winning than losing. They’re definitely a powerhouse and they’ve got some really skilled guys.”

“It’ll be a tough game,” Luke Hoelscher said. “They’ve got some really skilled forwards and tough defence so it’ll be close.”

Orangeville edged the St. James Lions 3-2 in the other semifinal Monday at Orangeville’s Tony Rose arena.

Orangeville’s scoring details were not reported.

Andrew Paoli and Nick Brake scored for St. James while Brake and Owen Puckett had assists.

The Bears and Falcons have been headed for a championship-game showdown since the beginning of the season. Orangeville won all 10 of its regular-season games while Centre Wellington had eight wins, a loss and a tie. The blemishes on the record were against the Orangeville schools – a 3-3 tie with the Westside Thunder Dec. 1 and a 3-2 loss to the Bears Jan. 19.

“They’ll be the favourites, they haven’t lost,” Skerritt said. “There’s no problem with us going in there as the underdogs and we’ll see if we can’t come out with a victory.”

“They’re always really tight, hard hits and a lot of stick work — chippy.” Fourth-year Falcon Luke Hoelscher said of games with Orangeville. “It’s always good – fast and a lot of nice plays. It’ll be good.”

The Falcons are the defending league champions while the Bears won the title each of the previous three years. Orangeville defeated Centre Wellington in the 2013 and 2015 championship matches.

The final is set for Wednesday at 1:30 p.m. at Orangeville.

The Falcons could have a little extra incentive as only the D4/10 champion advances to the CWOSSA AAA championship tournament March 6 and 7. It’s to be held at the Centre Wellington Community Sportsplex.

“This year only one team goes on so there’s a lot at stake here, too,” Skerritt said. “I’m not sure if the guys realize it or not, but if you have the opportunity you want to seize it. It doesn’t come very often.”

Erin advances to the CWOSSA A/AA championship tournament at Owen Sound March 6 and 7. They could be joined by St. James if the Lions win a qualifier against the Galt CI Ghosts Wednesday at Cambridge.