Shamrocks turn on power play to topple Port Dover

CAMBRIDGE – The Hespeler Shamrocks rediscovered their scoring touch on the power play as they scored three times with a manpower advantage in a 5-2 victory over the Port Dover Sailors in Provincial Junior Hockey League play Wednesday night at the Hespeler arena.

“At the start of the year, our power play was pretty good and then we just kind of went into a funk so we started trying different personnel to see if we could try to get something going,” said Hespeler head coach and general manager Mike Down. “Again we made another change tonight and that seemed to click tonight so we’ll keep that together going forward this week and see what happens.”

A pair of power-play goals about a minute and a half apart midway through the game turned a 2-1 lead for Port Dover into a 3-2 lead for the Shamrocks. Those goals were also the first two of four unanswered goals for Hespeler.

The teams were tied 1-1 at the end of the first period and Hespeler led 3-2 after the second.

The Shamrocks also killed off five of the six penalties they took to raise their penalty-kill percentage to 82.61. That places them around the middle of the league in 33rd of the 62 teams in the PJHL.

“For the first three weeks of the season we had the second overall PK in the entire league,” Down said. “Then we kind of fell out. Niagara scored four on us one night and that just plummeted our PK.”

Of the 27 games the Shamrocks have played this season, four have seen the opposition score more than one power-play goal while 11 have resulted in Hespeler keeping their foes scoreless on their power plays.

For Down, a former assistant coach with the junior B Guelph Hurricanes, he added the head coach duties to his general manager responsibilities about a year ago.

“Last year I came aboard and we only had about 14 games to go,” Down said. “We changed up systems and down the stretch we were pretty good. This year coming right into it, we had our systems set up right from the summer and started working on it. That certainly helped as the guys are buying in and are doing the things they’re asked to do.”

The Shamrocks have already surpassed their wins and point totals from last season when they finished eighth in the division at 7-32-1-2. The five goals they scored Wednesday leave Hespeler with 66 goals on the season, two shy of the total they amassed all of last season’s regular season.

“We’ve got a little bit different dynamic this year,” Down said. “We’re stronger in net and Gavin’s really picked his game up. Right from the blueline on out, we’ve been really good and with the acquisition of a couple of forwards, it’s really turned the tide. The guys are believing in themselves and that makes a big difference.”

Hespeler has added Kyle Yetman and Brayden Dupuy, Yetman coming from the Paris Mounties and Dupuy, who made his Hespeler debut Wednesday, who started the season with the Delhi Travellers.

The Shamrocks have also struggled on home ice this season as their road record is better than their record at the Hespeler Memorial Arena. They’re 6-7-1-1 on the road and 4-7-1-0 at home.

However, of their 12 home games, six have been against teams in the top three in the division – the Grimsby Peach Kings (19-4-0-3), Glanbrook Rangers (20-8-0-0) and Hagersville Hawks (15-6-2-2). They’re 1-4-1-0 in those games and .500 (3-3-0-0) in the others.

“It’s an adjustment at home with the bigger ice,” Down said. “I think we’ve found our footing now at home. We’ve been successful the last little bit and we were snake-bit, too. We lost a lot of games by a goal or two goals.”

Of Hespeler’s 14 losses this season, eight have been by a goal or two.

“Up until the last little bit, when we made a mistake it ended up in our net and when other teams made a mistake, we just couldn’t find a way to put it in,” Down said. “We’re getting a few dirty goals now and hopefully that translates into more going forward.”

Kyle Wagner had a pair of goals for the Shamrocks Wednesday while Austin Reilly, Ryan Terry and Nick Donelle also scored. Devin Schneider and Ryan Frost each had two assists while single assists were awarded to Wagner, Dylan Beitz, Matthew Diebolt, Gavin Logher and Brett Hartin.

Tyler Heisey and George Kapralos scored the goals for Port Dover while assists went to Hayden Butler, Dylan Stroud, Chris Giroday and Ben Mason.

Hespeler outshot Port Dover 46-38 and went 3-for-10 on its power play while Port Dover was 1-for-6.

Gavin MacLeod picked up the win as he turned 36 shots aside in the Hespeler net. A.J. Scala was in net for the Sailors and he had 41 saves.

The Shamrocks are fifth in the eight-team Bloomfield Division at 10-14-2-1 while Port Dover is seventh at 8-16-2-1. Hespeler trails the fourth-place Dundas Blues (12-11-2-1) by four points, but Dundas has a game in hand.

The Shamrocks are to play the eighth-place Dunnville Mudcats (8-18-0-0) at the Dunnville arena Friday. Game time is 7:30 p.m. They’re also to host the sixth-place Niagara RiverHawks (9-14-0-2) Sunday at 3:30 p.m. in a game that is to start a stretch of seven games that is to see the Shamrocks play six of them at the Hespeler Memorial Arena.


Shamrocks 5 Sailors 2
Port Dover     1-1-0–2
Hespeler        1-2-2–5
Click here for boxscore
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