Valley splits weekend games with Cole Harbour
The regular season is winding down for the Valley midget AAA Wildcats. As of Jan. 20, the Wildcats had just one regular season game remaining Thursday, Jan. 23 at Cole Harbour.
After that, Valley will have a week off before beginning their first round playoff series Saturday, Feb. 1 on home ice in Berwick.
Heading into their final game, the Wildcats were solidly in fourth place in the Eastlink Division. They could not catch third-place Newbridge, nor could they be caught by fifth-place South Shore.
The standings as a whole showed Halifax first with 53 points, Cole Harbour second with 50, Newbridge third with 47 and Valley fourth with 40.
South Shore was fifth with 26, Pictou County sixth with 23, Cape Breton West seventh with 20 and Cape Breton eighth with 11 points.
All eight NSMMHL teams make the playoffs, with eight facing one, seven meeting two, six against three and five taking on four in opening-round action. The higher-ranked team in each match-up gets home-ice advantage.
There were still several games remaining that could have a bearing on the standings, including Valley at Cole Harbour, but it was looking increasingly like the Wildcats’ first-round opponent would be the South Shore Mustangs.
In action on the Jan. 18-19 weekend, the Wildcats split a pair of games with Cole Harbour, both of which were played in Berwick.
On Jan. 18, the Wildcats eked out a 2-1 win in a game in which all three goals were scored in the opening period.
Drake Batherson opened the scoring at 9:06. Alex Rawding made it 2-0 with the eventual game-winner at 12:14, and Matthew Morefield replied 20 seconds later with what would be Cole Harbour’s only goal.
Roman Bengert stopped 34 of 35 shots in the Valley goal for the win. Rowan O’Brien was equally impressive at the other end, turning aside 41 of 43.
The following afternoon, Gregor MacLeod’s second goal of the game with 4:18 remaining in overtime was the game-winner for Cole Harbour.
The Wolfpack struck first in regulation time on Connor Peverill’s goal at 4:14 of the second period, the first of five goals scored in the middle frame.
Rawding got the Wildcats on the board at 7:01, but Liam Rappoldt made it 2-1 Cole Harbour a minute later. Valley then struck for two goals, the first by Batherson at 12:47 and the second by Brett Tidman at 18:24, to lead 3-2 after 40 minutes.
MacLeod, a former Valley bantam Wildcat, had the only goal of the third period, tying the score at 15:42 and setting the stage for what turned out to be his own heroics in the extra session.