Thursday, October 08th, 2009
Renegades off to a solid start despite tough schedule
At first glance, it appeared the Niagara District Junior C Hockey League schedule makers had it in for the Woodstock Renegades.
Over the first eight games -- one-quarter of the regular season -- the Renegades were scheduled to face Norwich, Simcoe and Aylmer.
Those teams finished one, two and three in the Niagara west division last year and have been fighting for first place for the past five years.
For the Renegades, coming off yet another fourth-place finish last year and a second-round playoff exit to Norwich, the first eight games of the season could have been for treading water.
Except they haven't.
Woodstock is a mildly surprising 3-1 after the season's first three weeks.
The Renegades have already picked up two wins against Aylmer, a team still searching for its identity after losing a large number of top players to age over the past two years.
Woodstock's biggest win was on the road in Norwich, typically a graveyard for opposing teams.
The only bump has been Woodstock's 6-2 loss to Simcoe last Friday. The Renegades simply stopped skating and hitting over the last two periods and paid the price against an explosive offence.
"You play one bad period and that's the way it goes," Renegades' head coach Dave McLaren said afterwards.
Alex Gegeny has been a big reason why the Renegades have taken six out of eight points. The second-year goaltender took over the starting job upon Chris Lee's departure and has allowed 12 goals in four games. He insisted last week he doesn't feel added pressure as the No. 1 goalie playing behind a mostly new and inexperienced defence.
"I still play the same game," he said. "Just stop pucks."
If Gegeny can continue to do so while the defence corps finds its way, Woodstock will be in much better shape than once thought heading into the second quarter of the season and games against slow starters New Hamburg, Paris and Glanbrook.
"A quick start is huge," McLaren said. "These games you win at the beginning of the year will add up at the end of the year."