Mon, February 07th, 2011


Merchants take two-game lead

By Elliot Ferguson Sentinel-Review

WOODSTOCK – The first round of the Niagara Jr. C hockey playoffs have gone exactly as most expected: Norwich ran amuck and Woodstock struggled to make any indent on the scoreboard.

The weekend saw the Navy Vets fall two games behind their Highway 59 rivals.

The Merchants went into the series with the best record in the Niagara Division with 32 wins and four losses.

The Navy Vets carried the worst record in the division, with seven wins and 29 losses.

Friday night's series opener in Norwich saw the Merchants steadily pressure the Navy Vets, adding two goals each period on the way to a 6-1 win.

The Merchants seized a two game series lead Saturday night with a 2-0 win at the Woodstock District Community Complex.

Norwich forward Justin Lehmann opened the scoring Friday night three-and-a-half minutes into the first period and teammate Brendan Heffernan scored what would be the game winner with less than a minute to go in the first frame.

Forward Curtis Logan scored on the powerplay four minutes into the second period and was followed four minutes later by a goal by defenceman Aaron Wirth.

Heffernan scored his second goal of the game almost six minutes into the third period and three minutes later forward Bryan Phillips added Norwich's final goal and second powerplay goal of the game.

Norwich defenceman Kevin Kuehl and forward Addison Fisher each had three assists.

Phillips, forwards Cole Vinnai and Mike Brilhante, defencemen Stuart Preston and Jakob Schira each added one assist.

The Navy Vets ruined Norwich starting goaltender Matt McGonigle's shutout with less than three minutes left in the game.

Forward Dylan Lazarus salvaged some Woodstock pride, scoring powerplay goal on an assist from Kyle Robertson.

McGonigle made 19 saves on 20 shots while Woodstock goalie Neil Pittock faced 29 shots and made 23 saves.

McGonigle made 23 saves Saturday night to earn a shutout Saturday night as the Merchants scored one goal in the first and second periods and held on for the 2-0 win.

The Navy Vets defence put up a better show Saturday, blunting the Norwich forwards' attack repeatedly.

Heffernan scored his third goal of the series on a pass from Kuehl with less than four minutes left in the first period. Forward Derek McDougall added another midway through the second period, with assists from forwards Mike Rebry and Tom Brady.

Pittock made 40 saves on 42 shots Saturday night.

Game three of the series is scheduled for Tuesday night in Woodstock.