The Wildcats lost several players to injuries and lost both weekend games. In the Oct. 18 game, pictured, the Wildcats lost 4-3 in overtime to the Amherst Ramblers. – John DeCoste, www.kingscountynews.ca
By John DeCoste
It wasn’t a great weekend for the Valley Junior A Wildcats in more ways than one.
The Wildcats dropped both their weekend games on home ice, 4-3 to Amherst in overtime Oct. 18 and 5-2 to Dieppe on Oct. 19. The team lost number-one goalie Blade Mann-Dixon, plus players Justin Thomas and Jamie MacIntyre, to injuries.
Head Coach Nick Greenough confirmed Oct. 21 that Mann-Dixon, who leads the league with a 2.05 goals against average, suffered an arm injury during the Oct. 19 game.
Thomas “took a puck to the face, then went into the boards pretty hard,” during that game as well and suffered a concussion. MacIntyre chipped a knuckle in a fight during the Oct. 18 game.
Greenough said Mann-Dixon “is day-to-day. We’re hoping he won’t be out that long; we’ll know better by the end of the week.”
MacIntyre will likely be sidelined “between one and three weeks.”
Thomas will be out a minimum of a week, and possible more, Greenough said. With a concussion, “we want to make sure he’s 100 per cent symptom-free before he can come back.”
In addition to the injured players, Brandon Weir received an automatic one-game suspension for being assessed two misconduct penalties in the Oct. 19 game.
Overtime loss to Amherst
On Oct. 18, the Wildcats led 2-1 after two periods and 3-1 early in the third only to have Amherst roar back to tie the score and force overtime, which only lasted 1:09 before former Midget Wildcat John Deacon netted the game-winner.
Brad Ryckman had Valley’s first and third goals, his team-high eighth and ninth of the season. Thomas had the other Wildcats’ goal, his seventh of the season.
Ben MacDonald made it 3-2 at 9:20 of the third period, and Jamie Bishop scored the tying goal for Amherst at 10:35. Final shots were 47-34 in favour of the Wildcats.
Defeated by Dieppe
On Saturday, Dieppe prevailed 5-2 in a chippy game that saw 120 minutes in penalties assessed, including eight 10-minute misconducts and a game misconduct.
Dieppe opened the scoring with a disputed goal 5:40 into the opening period. Luc Eagle’s goal was allowed to stand even though Wildcats’ goalie Mann-Dixon appeared to be down and injured and out of the play.
“It was one of our players” who collided with the goalie, Greenough said. “If it had been their player, the whistle likely would have gone.”
He described the incident as an unlucky break that unfortunately went against the Wildcats.
Luke Warner made it 2-0 with a shorthanded goal 6:05 into the second period before Nick Bruce got the Wildcats on the board at 15:06, making it 2-1.
Dieppe then scored three third period goals to Valley’s one, with Justin MacDonald (on the power play), Alex Snow and Ryan Langan scoring for the Commandos, and Brady Atwater netting his first Junior A goal for the Wildcats’ marker.
Final shots on goal were 33-30 in favour of Dieppe. Mann-Dixon stopped three of the four shots he faced, and Jeff Arkin turned aside 25 of 29. Connor Wilkinson stopped 28 of 30 shots to earn the win.
Greenough described the weekend action as “fast-paced, hard-hitting action, typical of junior hockey. A few guys went down with injuries, which is going to happen,” although no coach likes to see them happen in bunches.
He was pleased with the way the rest of the team stepped up following the player losses.
“We had a couple of bad breaks and unlucky bounces, but I feel we continue to get better every time out, which was our goal going in.”
This past weekend was one of the toughest the Wildcats will likely face, with Amherst “a veteran team that plays hard,” and Dieppe “the top team in the other division,” with a couple of players with previous Major Junior experience.
Greenough was also pleased to see Atwater notch his first goal as a Junior A player. “Brady is adjusting very well to what has been a big adjustment for him,” he said. “I’m pleased he was able to get his first goal playing at home.”