By Darryl G. Smart
The first weekend of Ontario Junior Hockey League games was a great litmus test for Dan Fitzgerald, Darren DeDobbelaer and the Brantford 99ers.
“I like what we have,” DeDobbelaer said before the season started. “It’s been a long offseason. It felt like it, that’s for sure. The kids are happy to get going and so are we.”
After opening the season on the road with a 5-3 win over the Milton Menace, the 99ers showed they could hang with anyone, dropping a close 4-2 decision to the Georgetown Raiders.
In the season opener, the 99ers roared back in the third period, with Ethan Klemen, Jake Partridge, and Lucas Thompson scoring three unanswered goals to get that all important first W of the season.
The Menace got off to a great start when Justin Randhawa scored the first goal of the game less than three minutes into the game.
Adrian Rebelo responded for the 99ers five minutes into the second period. The tie was short-lived, though, with Andrew Horsley scoring two goals three minutes apart midway through the frame, before Ryan VanNetten got the 99ers within a goal with just under three minutes to go in the frame.
Justin Wu got the win between the 99ers pipes making 26 saves.
In their home opener Sunday at the Gretzky Centre, Brendan Anderson got the 99ers off to a start they were hoping for, before Brandon Kakei responded late in the first period.
Rhys Chiddenton and Eric Russell gave the Raiders a two goal cushion in the second period, before Anderson scored his second goal of the game five minutes into the third period to cut the deficit to one. But Chris Ishmael scored late in the final frame to give the Raiders the insurance they needed.
Ben Bonisteel took the loss in the 99ers pipes making 26 saves, while Mikael Kingo stopped 24 to get the win.
With the 1-1 record, the 99ers return home Thursday, when they take on the Burlington Cougars at 7:30pm, before hitting the road Friday against the Oakville Blades.