Monday, September 21st, 2009
Renegades open in style with win over Spits
The Renegades Jr. C hockey team won its home opener 4-2 against the Aylmer Spitfires Friday.
The Renegades' players showed an impressive ability to rebound and capitalize on their chances, taking advantage of a Spitfires crew that is still finding its goal scorers at this early point in the season.
"Are we grittier? The loss of (Graham) Spriel makes a difference. Those are points that you can't really replace," Aylmer coach Mike Shewan said of the 25-goal scorer and 2008-09 league MVP. "So we need to rely on good, hard work and our systems.
"We hit a couple of crossbars and posts tonight."
Penalty kills were the bigger difference for Shewan, who said the team needs to work on positioning so it doesn't get caught in penalizing situations and end up short-handed.
"You need to be in a good position to keep moving your feet," he said.
Renegades coach Dave McLaren referred to the team's offence -- able come from behind once and pull ahead of a tie twice -- as a work in progress, given this early season timing.
"We lost Tyler Labadie (check from behind) early, so we had to jumble a bit," McLaren said. "We played well and it shows we have lots of talent."
Newly minted Renegade Luigi Martone got the season's first goal, a textbook three-on-two play with line mates Cole Maher and Craig Thomson, with the feed coming to Martone on Spitfire goaltender Brandon Rohrer's open stick side. The goal had Martone, a Woodstock acquisition after several seasons in Toronto-area Jr. A, buzzing in the change room after the game about how welcome he feels in the room and crediting his line mates' talent.
The Renegades would take the lead before the end of the frame on a Jordan Minello goal, who skated into the slot to grab a rebound and wristed it above Rohrer. It was Minello's second goal -- the Renegades' third -- that gave the team the momentum it needed to secure the win.
A bad pass back to the blue-line by Aylmer led to Minello being fed the puck in the neutral zone and a breakaway where he again beat Rohrer.
"That made it 3-2 for us and it got things jumping for us. It got us going," McLaren said. "We were able to relax, get the communication lines going again and stay loose."
Goaltending was a key consideration of Friday's result as well-- McLaren credited Rohrer with an early power-play stop where he simply robbed Travis Horvath on an excellent opportunity. Shewan called it an NHL-caliber save. At the other end, Shewan credited Renegades' net minder Alex Gegeny with a few brilliant snatches of his own, particularly in the third as the Spitfires poured on the pressure and the extra attacker.
The Renegades' next game is this season's start of the Battle of Highway 59 in Norwich, with an 8 p.m. start at the Nor-Del Arena.
"Our main focus between now and then will be end-zone coverage," McLaren said. "We need to concentrate on our own end zone and get everyone on the same page.
"Norwich-- they're a solid, experienced team and we know who they have."