Patriots clipped in overtime by Mitchell Hawks
Rob Massey, Guelph Sports Journal
MOUNT FOREST – Mount Forest Patriots’ latest taste of overtime this Provincial Junior Hockey League season was more a nibble than a big bite.
The Patriots yielded a goal 29 seconds into the sudden-death seven-minute overtime to drop a 5-4 decision to the Mitchell Hawks Saturday night at the Mount Forest and District Sports Complex.
“That was a hard-fought battle by Mitchell and I thought our boys battled back,” Mount Forest coach Trent McClement said. “It wasn’t really our best game and in the end we came off on the wrong side of the foot, but sometimes you’ve got to lose to learn how to win.”
The Patriots have been doing a lot of winning this season as they’ve pocketed a single-season franchise record 25 wins and they have nine games to go in their regular season.
“It’s definitely the time of year where everybody’s gearing up for the playoffs and everybody’s going to be having hard games,” McClement said. “You know any team coming in here in the position we’re in right now, any team is going to be geared up for us because we are in first place right now. We expected this. We had a bad first period and it was just hard to battle back after that.”
The match was the third one for Mount Forest that went into overtime this season as they had previously defeated the Wingham Ironmen twice in OT this season, both by 6-5 scores. One lasted 39 seconds, the other more than five minutes.
“I wouldn’t say it was a terrible game,” Patriots’ captain Shawn Lantz said. “I think it’s good for us going into the playoffs to lose one. To lose one isn’t a bad thing. It just helps us. It shows us that every game is not going to be a 10-1 win and every game is not going to be easy for us.”
Derek Elliott, who had three assists earlier in the game, potted the winner for Mitchell. The Hawks led 2-0 at the end of the first period before the Patriots battled back to go ahead 4-3 by the end of the second. MacKinnon Hawkins pulled Mitchell even with less than eight minutes to go in regulation time with his second power-play goal of the game.
Jarrett Bogdon also scored twice for the Hawks, once on a power play, and he had two assists, too.
Thomas Haffner on a power play, Michael Stefanelli, Blair Butchart shorthanded and Klayton Hoelscher had a goal apiece for Mount Forest. Single assists were awarded to Brendon Aitken, Ryley Cribbin, Jack Birkett, Klayton Hoelscher, Lantz and Butchart.
Brett Denny, Blake Pickering and Nick Jung each had an assist for Mitchell.
The teams took 37 shots apiece and Mitchell went 3-for-6 on the power play while the Patriots went 1-for-4.
Curtis Laviolette collected the win in net for the Hawks while Mount Forest’s David Lobsinger took the loss.
The game was the second of 16 home games that the Patriots didn’t win. The other was a 3-1 loss to the Walkerton Hawks Sept. 23.
“The way our team’s built, we’re hard to play in this barn,” McClement said. “We’re fast. We move the puck good in the neutral zone and we do quick-ups so I just think with our big ice, we’re a hard match-up in this rink.”
“I think it has a lot to do with the community,” Lantz said. “They all come out. We usually get a good crowd at home and everyone likes to play in front of their family and friends.”
The defending Pollock Division champions, the Patriots finished third in the division last season before getting on a roll in the playoffs when they twice rallied from 3-0 deficits to post 4-3 series wins.
“That run last year taught our team how to win,” McClement said. “When I say ‘how to win,’ you have all your guys buying into your system. They buy what you’re throwing down and that’s what our team’s been doing this year and it’s been working for us. Every game’s not going to turn out the way you want, but in the end as long as you’re doing the things that you need to do to be successful, it’s all going to work out in the long run.”
“We definitely have a different team than we did last year,” Lantz said. “Last year we were kind of known as an underdog and we fought for everything we had last year. This yea, we’ve picked up some big names and this year’s a little different because it’s a little easier than we had it last year. We’ve got to learn to know that even though we’re this good, we’ve got to know that every night we’ve got to come and work hard. If we don’t, the same thing is going to happen as tonight.”
Saturday’s loss to Mitchell (17-12-1-1) put an end to a six-game win streak for the Patriots. Their longest win streak of the season has been seven games.
The Patriots know that they have to stick to their game plan if they want to be successful.
“We sometimes get away from our systems when we’re playing games against the lower teams in the league and we’re beating them 10-1,” Lantz said. “We get away from what we’re supposed to be doing and when we come into games like this, we’ve got to stick with what the coaches are saying and stick with our system.”
While the Patriots are comfortable leaders in the Pollock Division at 25-5-0-1, the top five (Patriots, Walkerton, Kincardine Bulldogs, Mitchell and Wingham Ironmen) in the seven-team division all have winning records while the bottom two (Goderich Flyers and Hanover Barons) are tied for last with winning percentages less than .220.
“All those five teams at the top have a good chance to win every night,” Lantz said.
“Our league is pretty competitive this year so there really are no easy games,” McClement said. “I kind of like it like that. When you’re gearing up for the playoffs or gearing up for a good run, you want games like the game tonight. You want to be tested all the time and you want to have guys rise to the occasion. This season isn’t easy other than maybe a couple of teams, but those teams can surprise you, too.”
The Patriots know about that as they lost 4-2 to the Flyers in Goderich Oct. 7. However, the Patriots entered Saturday’s game following a 9-3 win at home over Goderich Dec. 23 and an 8-1 victory over the Barons at Hanover Friday night.
“It’s always tough when you come from a game on Friday night and you take a team 8-1 and then you come in the next night,” Lantz said. “These guys were ready to go. I give them all the credit.”
Next on the schedule for the Patriots is a match against the Walkerton Hawks (20-8-1-1) at Walkerton Friday at 8:20 p.m. They’re to host Wingham (16-10-1-3) Saturday at 8 p.m.