On paper, the Valley junior A Wildcats were outmatched going into their home game Nov. 26 against the South Shore Lumberjacks.
But hockey games aren’t played on paper.
The Wildcats stunned the top team in the Maritime Hockey League and number 10-ranked team in Canada, handing the Lumberjacks a 4–1 loss at the Kings Mutual Century Centre in Berwick.
Matt Warner, Brock McLeod and Tarek Paranica each had a goal and two assists in the win, while Brett Tidman added the fourth goal for Valley. Cole McLaren stopped 47 shots for the win in net.
The victory was a big bounce back for the Wildcats, who dropped a 5–1 decision to the Miramichi Timberwolves the previous night, and suffered a 4–2 defeat to the Summerside Western Capitals Nov. 23 in P-E-I. Matthew Hermary, Mark Kennedy and Tidman had goals in the two loses.
“You would mark this down as the toughest of the three games, but I thought we really played well today,” said Valley Wildcats head coach Travis Young following the win over South Shore.
“Cole (McLaren) was great, but I thought we did a good job of limiting the really dangerous chances. He did a great job of controlling rebounds and not giving up second chances, but as a group we did a good job of tying sticks up in front and making his job easy at times.”
Loss to Miramichi
Fans left frustrated after the loss to Miramichi as Valley surrendered three shorthanded goals against the New Brunswick team. Special teams were much improved in the Nov. 26 win, as Valley killed five of six penalties and scored a power play goal. Young says there was no single big adjustment that forced the turnaround.
“I thought at times even in that Miramichi game the power play looked good, we moved the puck well. It’s just the big mistake that’s hurt us all year,” Young said.
“Whether it’s a turnover for the breakaway or miscommunication. Our guys did a better job of managing the puck today and making smart decisions. Getting that power play goal in the third after they had gotten one themselves making it a 3–1 game was a big turning point, and we were able to close the deal from there.”
The Wildcats have six games remaining before the Christmas break, including three this weekend in New Brunswick. Valley visits the Campbellton Tigers Dec. 1, the Miramichi Timberwolves Dec. 2, and the Edmundston Blizzard Dec. 3.
The last home game before Christmas break is Dec. 9 at the KMCC in Berwick against the Truro Bearcats. Puck drops at 7 p.m.