Junior Gryphs split matches at OHL Cup tournament

Rob Massey, Guelph Sports Journal

TORONTO – While a sweep of their two games at the OHL Cup minor midget AAA hockey tournament Wednesday would’ve been preferred, the Guelph Junior Gryphons feel pretty about splitting those games.

“We’d obviously rather be 2-0, but after Day 1 we control our own destiny. If we win out, we advance,” Junior Gryphs coach Joe Amlinger said. “I think a lot of teams would like to be in that position so we have to rest up tonight and make sure we take care of business the next two games.”

After recording a 5-2 win over New York Elite Hockey Group in their morning game at the Scotiabank Pond, home of the tournament, the Junior Gryphs were handed a 5-3 setback by the Toronto Marlboros in their afternoon match. That was the first game of the day for the Marlies.

“They were in a tighter game than they were accustomed to last night,” Amlinger said of the Marlies. “They were in a one-goal game (against EHG) and we played a few hours ago so those were obviously factors, but at the same time the schedule is what it is. Everyone has to play a lot of hockey in a short amount of time. We know how the tournament is structured and we don’t think that’s the reason we came out on the short end. We think with a couple of bounces and if we played a little bit more consistent for all three periods, we could’ve won this game.”

Brody Waters hit for a pair of goals for the Junior Gryphs in the win over EHG. Brett Allen, Ryan Goetz and Logan Morrison added a goal apiece while Jakson Kirk, Owen O’Donnell, Zachary Hatch, Isiah Katsube, Cameron Angst and Andrew Britton each had one assist.

The Junior Gryphs yielded a goal 12 seconds into the match against the Marlies, tied it 18 seconds later on a goal by Morrison and then fell behind just less than two minutes after that.

“I loved our response (to the opening goal),” Amlinger said. “To give one up in 12 seconds and then the first shift be 1-1, we did a couple of times. To go down 3-1 and 4-1, we could’ve folded up but we kept on pushing and pushing and made a game of it.”

The Marlies led 4-1 at the end of the first period and Guelph closed the gap with the lone goal of the second and another goal early in the third. The Marlies completed the scoring midway through the third.

“We just stuck to our game plan and tried to get pucks in behind them,” Amlinger said. “We don’t think that’s a team that’s played in their own zone a lot this year so we wanted to make them as uncomfortable as possible so get pucks in behind them and try to win those races.”

Morrison, O’Donnell and Waters hit for a goal apiece for the Junior Gryphs while assists went to O’Donnell, Kirk, Britton, Goetz, Jack Harper and Morrison.

Riley Piercey tallied twice for the Marlies while McKay Hayes, Will Cuylle and Jamie Drysdale added single goals. Reid Valade and Lleyton Moore each had two assists while Kallaway Mercer, Finn Brown, Drysdale, Cuylle and Stephen Halliday had one each.

The Marlies outshot the Junior Gryphs 25-18 and both teams went 1-for-5 on their power plays.

Hayden Dunford took the loss in the Guelph net while Connor MacKenzie had the win for the Marlies.

The Marlies lead the Nash Division at 2-0-0-0 while the Sun County Panthers won their only match. The Junior Gryphs and Cambridge Hawks are both at 1-1-0-0 while EHG trails at 0-3-0-0.

After Wednesday’s games, the Gryphs were third in the 20-team tournament with a 36.4 power-play percentage as they had four goals on 11 power plays.

“We worked on it a lot in our week of preparation leading up to this tournament,” Amlinger said. “It’s looking good. It could still be a bit better but we’re really happy with the results after two games in terms of our power play.”

The Junior Gryphs are to play Cambridge Thursday at 9 a.m. and Sun County Friday at 10:15 a.m.

“We’ve just got to get back to our structure in our D zone, try not to chase and stay disciplined,” Amlinger said. “(We need to) stay out of the box as much as we can and keep cashing in on our power play. Special teams have been a really huge asset for this group all year and one of the reasons we’re here. Stick to that, stick to our game plan and be hard to play against and take care of business the next two games.”

Top two in the division advance to Saturday morning’s quarter-finals.