By Darryl G. Smart
As Jake MacNeil looked on during warmup before the Caledonia Pro-Fit Corvairs took on the Fort Erie Meteors Sunday night, he, like many among the Greater Ontario Junior Hockey League team’s brass, can see the light at the end of the tunnel.
“If we can survive this stretch, I think we can survive just about anything,” MacNeil, the Corvairs assistant general manager said.
Still with seven players out of the lineup, the makeshift Corvairs took all four points over the weekend in a pair of GOJHL Golden Horseshoe Conference home games.
On Saturday, Noah Baltzer’s goal midway through the third period capped the comeback as the Corvairs took a 3-2 victory over the Thorold Blackhawks.
Newly acquired Markus Dempewolf was an immediate impact, scoring his first goal as a Corvair three minutes into the game on the powerplay.
In the second period, the Blackhawks dominated on the scoreboard thanks to Harris Goan and Tyson Wassink, before Ethan Doyle tied things up seven minutes into the final frame to set up Baltzer’s heroics.
Ethan Langevin was fantastic in the pipes for the Corvairs making 31 saves. Down at the other end, Noah Fortuna was also solid, making 27 stops.
On Sunday against the Meteors, Mason Mantzavrakos, who also joined the Corvairs during the week, made his presence felt with two goals to lead the way in a 5-2 win.
Mantzavrakos got things going in the first period, with Dempewolf adding another.
The Meteors evened things up in the second period thanks to Doug Doren and Marcus Regina, before Doyle scored what turned out to be the game-winner on the powerplay.
Mantzavrakos netted his second of the game midway through the third period, before Riley Benevento added an empty-netter.
It was Hayden Dunford’s turn to shine in the Corvairs crease, making 34 saves for the win, while Duncan Nicholos-Delay stopped 26 shots.
“We’re slowly putting things together,” MacNeil said. “We’ve got a few things coming that will improve the team.”
The first of which is the return of four players after not being able to start the season. Terry Bridgland, Daniel Moro and Dylan MacLeod are all making their season debuts Thursday in Hamilton against the Kilty B’s. And on Saturday, at home against the Kilty B’s, the Corvairs will get Calvin Crombie back in lineup.
Thursday’s game in Hamilton begins at 7pm, with Saturday’s to begin at 7:30pm.
The Brantford Bandits are still trying to find their groove in Greater Ontario Junior Hockey League Midwestern Conference action. Over the weekend, the Bandits were only able to muster a pair of goals in two games.
On Saturday at the civic centre, Vyacheslav Gordeichuk stopped 38 of 41 shots to give the Bandits a chance to win in a 3-1 loss to the Stratford Warriors.
Derek taylor got the Bandits off to a great start, scoring midway through the first period, before Luke fritz replied early in the second period.
But it was the third period that became the difference maker, with Fritz scoring the winner and Nash Glover some insurance.
Warriors goalie Marcus Vandenberg got the win making 21 saves.
Sunday, also at the civic centre, the Ayr Centennials came in and defeated the Bandits 7-1.
Blair Krawchyk scored the lone Bandits goal.
Owen Ireton led the centennials with two goals, while Ryan Campbell, Thomas Brown, Mason Wright, Jack Weiser, and Ben Moldenhauser added singles.
The Bandits, now 0-7, are hoping to turn around their fortunes this weekend. Saturday they host the Kitchener-Waterloo Siskins at 7pm, before hitting the road Sunday at 7pm to take on the Elmira Sugar Kings.