Untimely penalties caused the Niagara Predators to squander fine performances from young goaltender Jordan Duquette and new forward Cameron Savoie Friday night at Virgil’s Meridian Credit Union Arena.
Savoie netted a hat trick in just his second game in the Greater Metro Junior A Hockey League, and Duquette kicked away 32 shots from the Ravens. But it was all for naught as penalties allowed St. George to force overtime. They capitalized on another squandered opportunity for Niagara in the extra period to take a 5–4 victory.
Despite the Preds outshooting the Ravens 19–9 in the first period, St. George scored first. The goal came at 7:29 into the game when a lucky bounce off a rebound landed right on Tyler Warnez’ stick. He seized the opportunity to beat Duquette high left and give the Ravens the lead.
St. George goalie Luca Del Rizzo stopped shot after shot, but Savoie finally got the Predators on the scoreboard 15 minutes in with his first of three, assisted by Declan Fogarty and Guy Manco. But with under two minutes to play in the period and Savoie in the box for elbowing, Malcolm Campbell got the puck off a faceoff in the Preds end and scored to regain the lead for St. George.
Things were more balanced in terms of shots on goal in the second, each team making 13 attempts. But only St. George was able to score, and it was during a Predators power play that Spencer D’Souza put the Ravens up 3–1.
At 4:15 into the third, the Ravens were called for too many men on the ice. On the ensuing power play, Cameron Savoie got the puck at the blue line and rifled a shot past Del Rizzo to close the gap to 3–2. Exactly two minutes later, Savoie got another opportunity from the very same spot, and capitalized once again on the confusion in front of Del Rizzo’s crease to knot the score at 3–3.
Second-year Predator Logan Baillie gave the Preds the lead for the first time with just over 11 minutes left to play. Baillie got the puck near the blue line and took a soft shot toward Del Rizzo, who mishandled the puck and helplessly watched it cross the blue line.
As the Preds skated past the bench for the requisite congratulatory fist bumps after the go-ahead goal, defenceman Nick Savoie skated back to the St. George net to retrieve the puck for his teammate, giving Baillie a keepsake to mark his first GMHL goal.
With the 4–3 lead, Niagara played nearly flawless hockey, forcing the puck out of their own end and controlling the play for more than eight minutes. But it fell apart when Jaroslav Dohnal took an elbowing penalty in the offensive zone and Cameron Savoie was charged for roughing 65 seconds later.
With the two-man advantage and a faceoff in the Niagara end, St. George head coach Wade Clubb pulled Del Rizzo, and 14 seconds later Simon Otaki scored the tying goal.
Shortly after that, Otaki took an unsportsmanlike penalty, leaving both teams with four attackers. The Predators pressured Del Rizzo but he kept coming up with big stops. At the end of the period, one of the Ravens punched Predators forward Tyler Gearing, giving Niagara a two-man advantage to start overtime.
Then, a minute into the extra period, Riley Ellis took an unsportsmanlike conduct penalty and a 10-minute misconduct. That left the two teams at even strength. At 1:54, Campbell scored the winning goal.
The third overtime loss for the Predators this season was frustrating for head coach Kevin Taylor.
“I thought we played well,” Taylor said after the game. “We dominated the game. We looked good out there. They capitalized on their chances and we didn’t. And we had a lot more chances than they got. Certain guys couldn’t keep it together at the end.”
Taylor had praise for 17-year-old goalie Jordan Duquette, from St-Jean-sur-Richelieu, Quebec, who made his third start in net for the Predators. .
“He kept us in the game,” Taylor stated. “He gave us a chance to win it and we didn’t pull it out in the end. We gave up the tying goal six-on-three. We made too many mental mistakes in the end. Our mistakes cost us the game. It was blatantly obvious that they hurt us.”
Niagara is back in action Friday night, hosting the 8-12-2 Northumberland Stars at Virgil’s Meridian Credit Union Arena at 7:30 p.m.
Northumberland is in sixth place in the GMHL’s South Division, three points up on the Predators in the standings, though they’ve played five more games than Niagara. The season series between the two teams is tied at 1–1, with Northumberland having handed Niagara its first overtime loss back on Oct. 22 in Colborne.
Taylor knows there are areas the team needs to focus on in practice this week.
“There are some things I noticed tonight that I’ll have to talk to some of the players about,” Taylor said. “And special teams is a bit of a sore point for this team right now. For us to do anything moving forward, we’re going to have to tighten up on it.”
Following Friday’s game, they have a Wednesday night contest in Bradford against the Bulls. At 15-3-0, the Bulls are tied with Durham in second place in the South. The Bulls embarrassed the Predators on Oct. 28 with an 8–1 win in Virgil. The 8 p.m. game will be live-streamed via gmhl.tv.