Pat Payton, Gazette sports editor
Stratford Cullitons had averaged just 2.9 goals for in their previous 14 starts going into last Friday night’s GOJHL interlocking game with Buffalo Jr. Blades. That scoring average took a nice jump when Cullitons exploded for 15 goals and 42 total points in a 15-4 romp over the lowly Blades in front of about 1,450 spectators.
Stratford coach Phil Westman says nights like Friday can only help his team’s confidence when trying to find the back of the opposition net.
“You never like to see the score get like that, but I think we need to build team confidence and powerplay confidence,” Westman said. “Your team has to have one of those nights to put up some numbers.
“Probably the best thing for us was that Buffalo got a point in Caledonia the other night, so we went into the game with our eyes wide open. If Caledonia had beat them like this, I think we would have had a hard time motivating our guys tonight.
“We’re a team that’s struggled to score. And I think some of the goals we got tonight, going hard to the net and getting some tips and rebounds, will help us down the road. (The previous) weekend, we were getting too cute and not shooting.”
Final shots: 75-22
Only three Stratford players, including goalie Joe Metzger (3-4-1), did not register at least one point last Friday. Final shots were 75-22 in favour of the Cullitons in the very one-sided contest. It was the most goals Stratford had scored since a Sept. 14 home game. That night, they skated to a 7-4 victory over the Brampton Bombers.
Pacing Friday’s onslaught were forwards Ryan Watson, Mitch Brooks, Dylan Wettlaufer, Mitch Vandergunst and Jake Ryan, all with two goals apiece. Wettlaufer also collected three assists for a five-point night. Jared Culliton enjoyed a five-point outing as well with a goal and four assists. Defenceman Jordan Currie also helped set up four goals. The other singles came off the sticks of Shane O’Brien (his 11th), Trevor Sauder, Ryker Killins and Mike Pleon.
Tom Hanna had a goal and two assists for the Blades, who came into the game with a 1-1-1 record in their previous three games.
Cullitons led 8-2 after 40 minutes, helped by four powerplay goals in the second period, and then turned it into a laugher by scoring seven consecutive goals in the third.
“It’s always important to get the win, first of all,” said Ryan, who now has 11 points (7-4) in his last five games. “But getting 15 goals gives you confidence and you gel as a team. That’s what we learned tonight, and hopefully we’ll bring that confidence to the next game.”
Only four points out of third
After weekend action, Stratford (8-8-3) sits in alone in seventh place, but Cullitons are only four points behind the third-place Waterloo Siskins (11-8-1) in the tight Midwestern Conference standings. Only four points separate five teams in the middle of the pack. Buffalo is now 1-23-1 and dead last in the Golden Horseshoe loop.
Friday’s loss was the 11th time Blades had given up 10 or more goals in a game, and collectively they’ve now given up 218 goals.
This weekend: Cullitons host Kitchener Friday, Nov. 16 at the Allman, starting at 7:30 p.m. On Saturday, Stratford travels to Cambridge where the team hopes to claim its first win against the Winter Hawks this season.