Kings Dethroned, Tigers and Warriors Battle For OMHA Quarterfinal Berth, News, Atom Rep, 2018-2019 (Welland Minor Hockey)

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Kings Dethroned, Tigers and Warriors Battle For OMHA Quarterfinal Berth
Submitted By Justin Disher on Monday, February 4, 2019
The Welland Niagara Street Pharmacy/Gene's Skate Sharpening Tigers will be looking to lock down a berth into the OMHA Quarterfinals on home ice thanks to an undefeated weekend in Glanbrook.

Welland opened the OMHA Playdowns tournament with wins over Niagara Falls and St. Catharines on Friday. While neither the Flyers nor Falcons advanced into the semi-final round, their physical style of play made them tough opponents throughout the round-robin portion. Jaxson Hess staked the Flyers an early 1-0 first period lead but Townes Bestward would tie up the game three minutes later and Tanner Cutler would net the game winner in the second period as the Tigers held on for the 2-1 victory.

The Tigers jumped out to a 3-0 first period lead against the Falcons but a slow start to the middle frame gave the Falcons some life but in the end Welland proved to be just too strong, winning 5-2 with Julian Belcastro, Cutler, Colby Franchetti, Matteo Mete and Bestward finding their scoring touch. Cutler and Franchetti recorded two helpers each and Bestward also was credited with an assist.

Welland elevated their game on Saturday with wins over Glanbrook and Stoney Creek. All four goals scored in the game against Glanbrook came on the powerplay, with Welland converting 3 of 9 chances and Glanbrook going 1 for 4 with the man-advantage. Carter Kelly, Belcastro and Cutler scored for Welland with Brett Macqueen answering back for the Rangers. Franchetti collected two assists, with Carson McComber, Mason Risto and Cutler also being set up men.

While not overly busy, Riley Caron notched his ninth shutout of the season thanks to a great defensive team effort in front of him in a 2-0 victory over Stoney Creek to close out the round-robin. Julian Belcastro netted the game winning goal from Franchetti and Ashlyn Armstrong at 3:34 of the second period and Brennen Hagar blocked a shot and sealed the win with an empty net goal in the final minute. The Tigers did not capitalize on four power-play opportunities however, they also frustrated the Warriors power-play units who went 0-for-5.

Discipline was key in the Tigers 5-1 win over Glanbrook in the Semi-finals on Sunday. The Tigers recorded a penalty-free game while going 2-for-2 with the extra attacker. Belcastro and Cutler each scored twice each with Franchetti rounding out the offence as the trio worked extremely well together and showed the league just how potent they can be when that happens. While Welland's other two lines were stymied by some excellent goaltending from Lucas Cunningham, they were equally impressive to watch with their speed and playmaking abilities and their defensive effort was on full display. All seventeen players in uniform contributed in the two-way effort to advance to the Championship final, both on the ice and on the bench between shifts through their loud cheering when the Tigers went into third period lockdown mode.

After several years of dissatisfaction from nearly every centre, the format for the Niagara District OMHA Playdowns was changed this season. Niagara's representative in the OMHA Quarterfinals is no longer decided in an unpopular one-game playoff but rather through a four-point Championship series. Game one of that series took place at 4:30pm in Glanbrook with the winner getting home ice advantage for game two. Full scoring information from that Championship game has not yet been posted to the league website, however, Welland on the strength of two shorthanded markers prevailed over Stoney Creek 4-1 on Sunday afternoon. Franchetti, Bestward, Cutler and Mete all found the mesh as Welland gained home-ice advantage in the series. Game two, set to be played this week in Welland has yet to be scheduled. This story will be updated once those details become available.

Welland is now 42-4-8 overall, undefeated in 22 straight league games and has shut out teams 12 times this season. The bad news for everyone else is that they keep getting better with each passing game thanks to major improvements in their passing game and their commitment to team defence.

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Printed from wellandminorhockey.com on Monday, March 30, 2020 at 8:44 PM