May 28 – A high-stakes divisional battle played out at Ray Twinney on Sunday as the Saints took on the Ironheads. Separated by only four points in the standings, both teams were looking to snap multi-game losing streaks. And they had to contend with more than just each other as a heat wave created stifling conditions in the arena.
Cory Campbell got the nod in net for Newmarket, while Liam Wright took the cage for West Durham. Early on, the pair of tenders were the story as both turned aside shot after shot. Finally, 12 minutes into the period, Dante Romano broke in on a fast break and put the first goal on the board. A few minutes later, West Durham answered with a shorthanded marker. The first finished tied at ones.
In the second, things opened up a little as both sides forced multiple turnovers. The Ironheads struck first three minutes into the period only to see Luca Romano even the score a minute later with a nice outside shot. The Saints struck again shortly after on the power play as Captain Eric Mawdsley quick-sticked a cross-crease pass to make it 3-2. The goaltenders took over again from there, turning aside all shots for the next 12 minutes. With only two minutes left on the clock, Bryce Keats cut through, made a nice move and buried the equalizer to tie the game at three. As the period wound down, a loose ball battle ended with a five-minute slashing major to Saints goaltender, Cory Campbell, setting the stage for a big third.
The period opened with the Ironheads peppering the net only to be denied by Campbell. The Saints killed more than two minutes of the major before West Durham snuck one in to take the lead. Almost five minutes later, a great shorthanded play by Jackson Raposo padded the Ironheads’ lead. West Durham looked poised to run away with it, but a solo effort by Brandon Tanacs cut the lead to one and reversed the momentum.
The Ironheads then took a holding penalty and called for a jersey measurement on Campbell. The challenge failed, putting them two men short, and the Saints capitalized. Dougie Crawford tied the game on the power play with an outside shot from the left shooter. Under two minutes later, Nolan Rutty made a nice defensive play near centre, stole the ball and headed in all alone. A quick fake and shot from ten-feet out found the back of the net giving Rutty his first Jr.B goal and the Saints a 6-5 lead. Tanacs’ second followed just under two minutes later to put the home side ahead by two. Aidan Flannery broke in all alone but was taken down from behind on the play and awarded a penalty shot. Flannery made a nice move but hit iron and West Durham had life. Any chance of a comeback was thwarted though as Angus Rawding buried an insurance marker from in tight just 37 seconds later. With a three goal lead the Saints’ defence, along with Campbell, shut the door the rest of the way.
"That game was about as tight as it can get through two frames, both goalies were lights out," said Saints Head Coach, Dan Ransom Sr. "The turning point for us was probably the 5-on-3; we seemed to find our legs after that and get on a roll. Credit to our group, we pushed back in the third after a tough game Saturday night in Oakville."
Final score: Saints 8 – Ironheads 5.
Up next – The Saints look for redemption as they wrap up their season-series with the Mississauga Tomahawks. Game time is 8PM on Thursday at Ray Twinney Recreation Complex.