The Beardy’s Midget AAA Blackhawks picked up two huge points with a 6-5 victory over they Notre Dame Hounds on February 2 at the Willow Cree Memorial Sport Centre.
The matchup was close throughout and both teams were trading goals for the majority of the contest.
“Right from the first drop of the puck, they (Notre Dame) played really fast hard hockey, and I thought we responded really well to. It was just really exciting to see the guys respond that way,” said Blackhawks coach Dale Grayston.
Beardy’s opened up the scoring after Ryland McNinch found the back of the net 58 seconds in to the first period. However, about a minute after that goal, the Hounds tied it up.
Later in the period, Holden Doell, from in front of the net, beat the goalie to regain the lead for the Blackhawks. But again, the back-and-forth affair continued when Notre Dame responded with a goal of its own and the game was tied 2-2 after 20 minutes of play.
Early in the middle frame, the Blackhawks were putting pressure on the Hounds when Notre Dame had control of the puck in its own end, which led to a goal from Holden Knights. Once again the Blackhawks had a one goal lead.
That resilience of the Blackhawks, not letting the Hounds run with the momentum after tying the game multiple occasions, was what impressed Grayston.
“We didn’t get flustered when they (Notre Dame) got a goal, so we kind of kept the pressure on them that way. I thought, especially by our veteran guys, there was a lot of never give up attitude,” he said.
In the second half of the middle period, Beardy’s got into some penalty trouble, but the Blackhawks were strong on defence, and late in the frame Knights netted his second goal of the contest.
“Our penalty killing was pretty strong all night and we were able to get through that and score a big goal. We went through that adversity and to get that goal to give us a one-goal lead going into the third (period) was a really big moment for us,” Grayston said.
After the Hounds, again, tied the game time, Griffen Ryden scored back-to-back goals to give the Blackhawks a 6-4 lead.
“All night it seemed like it was a different veteran really stepping up, and it was really nice for Griffen to get rewarded,” Grayston said.
Notre Dame got within one goal, and pulled the goalie with about a minute remaining, but the Blackhawks stood their ground.
“We found ways to block shots, be strong on sticks and of course you need good a goaltender standing strong too, and I thought Matthew (Hennessey) did a really good job in net,” Grayston said.
Beardy’s has a good chance of making the playoffs and finishing as high as fifth place. With the season winding down, Grayston wants his team to play its best and not worry on playoff positioning.
“I think you just play your best and it will all kind of settle to where we’re all supposed to be when it’s all over. Really, if your playing any of the top four teams (in the playoffs) right now you got your hands full,” he said.