DARRYL KNIGHT The Standard
The Port Perry MoJacks extended their recent winning streak to nine games over the weekend, surviving a scare from Little Britain at home on Sunday, Nov. 23.
The MoJacks were victorious by a score of 3-2 over the Merchants at Scugog Arena, following a 6-0 win over the North Kawartha Knights in Apsley the previous evening.
On Saturday night, two goals from Ryan Bernardes, and singles from Kyle Powell and Graham Lamers gave the MoJacks a 4-0 lead heading into the third period.
Evan Wasylyk and Cole Murray scored in the final frame to wrap up a 6-0 shutout for Port Perry netminder Jeff Julien, who stopped all 25 shots fired his way by the COJHL expansion entry. Murray ended the night with four points, picking up a goal and three assists as the MoJacks won their eighth game in-a-row.
Less than 24 hours later, the MoJacks were back on the ice, taking on the Little Britain Merchants at Scugog Arena. The Merchants were riding high coming into the game, having knocked off Lakefield by a score of 5-2 on Tuesday night, before dispatching the Clarington Eagles 3-2 in Little Britain on Saturday night.
For the second straight game, Bernardes opened the scoring, lighting the lamp just over three minutes into the action. Hayden Long took advantage of a scrambling MoJacks’ defence to even the score almost five minutes later.
Wasylyk restored a one-goal lead for the MoJacks with just under eight minutes to play in the first period after a great pass from Konrad Piorkowski found him in front to bang the puck past Merchants goalie Garrett Haden.
Merchants forward Brady Martin provided a shift in momentum with just under two minutes to play in the first when he delivered a hip check that sent Steve Sampson flipping in the air before crashing to the ice. A retaliatory slashing penalty followed for the MoJacks winger, although Port Perry was able to escape the ordeal unscathed on the scoreboard.
Due to sensational play between the pipes from Haden and Julien, the second period produced no scoring. Haden made an acrobatic pad save on a short handed breakaway by Bernardes late in the keep the Merchants within a goal.
A shot from the point by Merchants defenceman Jesse Beers provided the equalizer just over three minutes into the third period. On the powerplay near the middle of the third, MoJacks captain Lucas Berkers was active along the blue line keeping several pucks in the offensive zone, but the MoJacks could not solve Haden.
The intensity picked up down the stretch with both teams vying for the go-ahead goal, which came with just over four minutes left in regulation, and Lucas Clark charging down the ice. After entering the offensive zone, Clark dished the puck to Kyle Schweda who was rushing into his left, the 20-year-old Port Perry native blasted the puck low to give the MoJacks a 3-2 lead. Schweda’s tenth goal of the campaign would hold up as the winner, propelling the MoJacks their ninth consecutive victory.
Following the game, MoJacks Assistant Coach Ken Cain credited the players’ resolve in leading the team to their longest winning streak since 2008.
“Guys are really buying in and believing in themselves, and we seem to be getting different contributors every night,” Cain told The Standard. “It’s not just about the streak, it’s about how we’re playing as a group. If our players are doing the things they’ve been taught, they get rewarded and they know that.”
Assistant Coach Casey vanSchagen added that the team has benefitted from a positive environment and also noted the improvement in skill level in the league since his time with his hometown MoJacks in the late 1990s.
“The mentality in this league about where it is and where it’s going has really changed and every team has a lot of talented guys that you have to prepare for,” vanSchagen said. “We’ve been trying to create a good atmosphere and for their part, the guys are enjoying coming to the rink and having fun.”
Although his team fell just short of a win on the afternoon, Merchants Head Coach Rob Louttit noted that he was pleased with the effort put forth by his charges during a busy week for the Shopkeepers.
“I’d love to have won, but I’m really happy with our effort in this one. If every game was like today, I’d take it everytime,” the Merchants’ bench boss told The Standard following the game.
- Defenceman Liam Schweda is expected to be sidelined four to six weeks after suffering an upper body injury.
- On Dec. 14, the MoJacks will be hosting their annual ‘Wooly Toss’ when they take on the Lakefield Chiefs at Scugog Arena. Fans are encouraged to bring along winter clothing (hats, mittens, gloves, scarves etc.) in a plastic bag to be thrown on the ice when the MoJacks score their first goal. All donations collected will benefit Operation Scugog.
- This weekend, the MoJacks will be in Keswick on Friday, Nov. 28, at 7:30 p.m. to take on the Georgina Ice. On Sunday, Nov. 30, the MoJacks host the latest round in the Battle of North Durham when the arch rival Uxbridge Bruins visit Scugog Arena for a 2:25 p.m. showdown. With all three games between the clubs this season going to extra time, this is one match-up local fans won’t want to miss.
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