BY DAN MCNEE
KITCHENER – If there’s one thing the Junior Cyclones know how to overcome, it’s adversity.
After starting the regular season winless in their first five games, Listowel turned its season around by winning the next five, ultimately finishing eight games over .500. They will need a little of that magic once again, as they find themselves in an early series hole against the Kitchener Dutchmen.
After the Cyclones left Kitchener’s Kinsmen Arena with a thrilling 3-2 double overtime victory last Wednesday night, no one probably would have guessed that the Dutchmen would hold Listowel to only one goal over the next two games.
Unfortunately for the junior squad that is exactly what transpired, as the Cycs find themselves down 2-1 in their opening round GOJHL series heading into last night’s game at Memorial Arena.
Listowel scored three unanswered goals including the double overtime winner from Caleb Cameron to take game one on Feb. 28.
The Dutchmen jumped to an early 2-0 lead in front of their home crowd before goals from Tyler Crawford and Scott Pawson knotted things up before the start of the third period. Then it was the Midwestern Conference MVP’s turn, as Cameron lit the lamp approximately eight minutes into the second overtime on a feed from Mac Nichol.
“It was huge,” head coach Jeff Flanagan simply said of the game one victory. “But every win is real big at this point.”
Drew Reinhardt (1-2) made 47 saves for his first GOJHL playoff victory in his first playoff game.
The Cyclones returned home to the Memorial on Friday night riding high, but it was to be short lived.
Kitchener scored four power play goals for a 5-0 blanking of Listowel in a game where the Cyclones’ frustrations got the better of them. Clayton Greer and Keli Grant each had three points for the Dutchmen, while goaltender Marc Williams (2-1) recorded the shutout. Reinhardt was the lone bright spot for Listowel, making 35 stops that were often on the difficult side.
“He made some great saves; he was excellent,” said Flanagan of his goaltender after the game.
Flanagan credited the ten power play opportunities afforded to the Dutchmen as being one of the reasons for his team dropping game two.
“I think it was part of it for sure,” he said. “As soon as you take a penalty, it takes away your momentum. Our penalty kill wasn’t great as well. As soon as we seemed to get back to five-on-five, we would take another one.
“It just doesn’t give us a chance to get any pressure on them. It makes it tough.”
On Sunday the series shifted back to Kitchener, where Listowel did not fair much better in game three.
Sam Feagan scored a power-play goal from Jesse Parker and Scott Coghlin midway through the first period, but the Dutchmen responded with five unanswered markers for a 5-1 victory. Grant again had three points for Kitchener including two goals. Reinhardt made 29 saves to give him a .902 save percentage and 3.40 goals against average through three games.
“It’s a long series, so as long as we can sort out some things we’ll be fine,” said Flanagan following the game two loss. “We know that we have good players and a good team atmosphere with guys that really want to commit to win. We knew we wouldn’t win it four straight.”
As of press time, the result of last night’s game four is unknown. The Cyclones return to Kitchener tonight for game five at 7 p.m.