Monday, December 21st, 2009
Renegades almost steal one
Woodstock goalie Alex Gegeny came agonizingly close to stealing Saturday's game from the first-place Norwich Merchants.
The Renegades star was almost unbeatable, turning away 50 of 52 shots in what, ultimately, was a 2-1 loss for Woodstock. As Woodstock owner and general manager Bill McLeod put it, "Thank God for Gegeny."
At one point in the middle of the second period, Merchants coach Chad Paton even called a 30-second timeout to talk to his frustrated team. After throwing everything at Gegeny -- firing 32 shots at the Woodstock netminder in 40 minutes -- the Merchants were still locked in a 1-1 tie.
"We were happy with how we played," Paton said after the game. "Their goalie just stood on his head tonight. We threw everything at him and we just couldn't buy one."
But the Merchants finally notched the go-ahead in the middle of a physical, hard-hitting third period when Addison Fisher knocked in the puck on a play with Bryan Phillips and Aaron Wirth. The same line was actually responsible for the first Norwich goal, with Phillips scoring late in the first from Fisher and Curtis Logan.
While Gegeny amazed, the rest of the Renegades were still working on the new systems introduced by McLeod when he assumed coaching duties in mid-November. Those changes, coupled with Friday night's exhausting overtime win against Caledonia, were likely why the Renegades were outshot 52-18 by their Highway 59 rivals.
"I've got no issue with how we played," McLeod said. "We hustled hard. Right now, the pressure is on the coaches to get the systems down."
The new approach did help Woodstock get on the scoreboard early in the second period, with Tyler Labadie scoring from Dan Phillips only 54 seconds after the opening draw.
"We just couldn't pull it out," Woodstock's Calvin Thomson said after the game.
Despite the loss, McLeod said the Renegades were rounding into form for the playoffs. With only five weeks left in the regular season, both McLeod and Paton said the remaining games -- particularly those against better teams -- would be used to prepare for the post-season.
"I definitely feel confident when the playoffs come," McLeod said. "We're half through (learning) our systems, and the last 10 games have been close.
"We've held our own against everybody and we're beating the teams we should be beating. We're gradually getting better and better."
The Renegades played a much more focused offensive game in Friday's 5-4 overtime win against the Caledonia Corvairs. Like Norwich on Saturday, the Renegades outchanced their opponents by a wide margin but struggled against a hot goalie.
While Sean Muller made 43 saves against the Renegades, he still couldn't prevent Jordan Minello from ending the game midway through the overtime frame, giving Woodstock its first overtime win of the season.
While Caledonia actually led early, thanks to first-and second-period goals from Kyle Draper, Matt Charbonneau and Scott Mann, the tenacious Renegades battle back. The 'Gades first tied the game late in the second period after goals from Cole Maher, Spencer Sweazy and Christian Babb. While an unassisted Jaccob DeNobriga regained Caledonia's lead with an early third-period goal, Woodstock's Justin Pottruff netted an equalizer with 6:11 left on the clock, setting the stage for Minello's overtime heroics.
With the weekend split, the Renegades now boast a 12-10-4 record, putting them five points ahead of the New Hamburg Firebirds for third place in the Niagara Junior C Hockey League's west division. Woodstock's next game is slated for Sunday, Dec. 27, in Simcoe against the high-scoring second-place Storm