Stratford Cullitons coach Phil Westman called it one of his team’s best defensive efforts this season.
Cullitons limited Kitchener to just 24 shots and few quality scoring chances in a 5-1 Midwestern Conference victory over the Dutchmen in front of just under 1,400 spectators Friday night at the Allman Arena.
“Tonight, technically, it was probably one of our better games all year,” coach Westman said after he watched his team (9-8-3) move to within one point of Kitchener (10-11-2). “Our forecheck was real good, we had good slants on our backcheck, and our defence stood up well all night.”
Cullitons led 1-0 after the first period and 3-0 after 40 minutes. They increased their lead to 5-0 before the 10-minute mark of the third, and it appeared the home team and goalie Nick Caldwell might just blank the visitors.
However, Dutchmen made the most of a powerplay opportunity for their lone goal with just over eight minutes to play. Captain Andrew Barton and defenceman Mike Pleon paced the Stratford offence, each with a goal and an assist. The other singles came off the sticks of Dylan Wettlaufer, Mitch Brooks and Shane O’Brien (his team-leading 12th).
Jordan Delaurier replied for Kitchener.
Cullitons’ penalty-killing was solid all night, holding Dutchmen to 1-for-7 with the man advantage. Caldwell (6-4-2) made 23 saves for the win.
Following Friday’s game, only three points separate five teams in the extremely tight middle of the pack in the Midwest standings. The victory was Stratford’s third in four games, while the loss put a halt to a two-game Kitchener win streak.
Upcoming: Cullitons are in Cambridge Saturday (Nov. 17) to play the second-place Winter Hawks (14-7-1).