Langton Master Mechanic Leafs peewees scored a season-high four goals on home ice Wednesday night.
Aylmer won the Southern Counties minor hockey game 6-4, with an empty-netter, but the Leafs were encouraged by the offensive effort.
“We did a lot better tonight,” said Langton’s Michael Smithson, “because we’ve been in a slump lately.”
It wasn’t one area, said Smithson, that was slumping, but ‘everything.’
“We haven’t been passing enough, and when we did, it went to the other team’s stick.”
“And afraid to get hit,” noted teammate Jordan Vanacker.
“And we were scared to get hit,” nodded Smithson.
“Yeah, we needed that,” said Master Mechanic coach Andy Koot, noting the effort Wednesday. “Our defence is playing very well, keeping their heads up. The kids were going hard to the net tonight, moving the puck a little more and skating a little faster. This was the best game they’ve played in a long time. In the last few games there was a little too much ‘standing still.’
“We made some changes, moved one guy back to D, and that seems to be helping.”
The Leafs, who only have three second-year peewees, and one player out with a concussion, rely on hard work to produce goals.
“Yeah we’re a meat-and-potatoes team I guess,” Koot laughed. “We have to work hard for every goal we score.”
Langton had doubled Aylmer 4-2 earlier in the season, but Aylmer shut out short-staffed Langton 8-0 in their previous Southern Counties meeting. The Master Mechanic peewees changed gears on home ice Wednesday night when Vanacker scored just 42 seconds into the game.
“That helped a lot,” said Smithson. “It just gives you a boost and it makes the other team feel down.”
“That’s so true,” nodded Vanacker.
Owen Koot made it 2-0 three minutes later leaving two defenders behind at the blue line, cutting across the top of the crease and depositing a backhander past goalie Sebastian Graham, who missed a pokecheck.
Aylmer replied with a very strong second period scoring four consecutive goals to take a 4-2 lead. Koot cut the lead to one late in the period going to his backhand once again.
The teams exchanged third period goals, with Aylmer adding a fifth countered by Langton’s Erik Haines who brought the Leafs once again within a goal, four-on-four, with 32 seconds left to play.
Goalie Guerin Greenfield was on the bench for an extra skater when Aylmer took advantage of a neutral zone turnover to score an empty-net goal with 22 seconds remaining in a 6-4 final.
“It was a back-and-forth game,” said Owen Koot.
Langton had a golden opportunity early in the third with a full two-minute, five-on-three powerplay, but had limited chances.
“We had a hard time holding onto the puck,” said coach Andy Koot. “Yeah, would have been nice to see a goal there, for sure. We just had a hard time keeping control of it.”
Smithson, who was credited on the gamesheet scoring Langton’s third goal, and teammate Owen Koot have been APing with the Booth’s Harbour bantams this season.
“I play every game with them if I can make it,” said Koot. “It’s pretty good. They’ve got more wins than the peewees have – they’ve got some strong players on that team. Bantam’s a lot faster, and a lot bigger hits – a lot! I play left or right wing, and usually I get every third shift.”
Smithson wears the C for the Master Mechanic peewees, and helped set up Koot’s second goal. Sort of…
“I got a goal, and…” said Smithson.
“You did not score!” a teammate quickly interrupted.
“And an assist,” Smithson smiled. “I passed it to him (Koot), so the refs might have mixed up the numbers. So I got a goal AND an assist.”
“Two goals,” said Owen Koot, clearing it up.
“In practice we’re working on conditioning, positioning, passing. We’ve had a few games where we kept popping them in, but really, four is the highest we’ve ever got in a game.”
Southern Counties changed its regular season format to seed teams prior to playoffs. Teams will be re-seeded again for the final ‘third’ of the season into A, B and C divisions.
“We should be well-seeded in a C division for Southern Counties,” said coach Koot. “That’ll be kind of nice, and it’ll be nice to see some different teams. Not as much driving this year, but it seems like we’ve only played five teams all year.”
AYLMER 6, LANGTON LEAFS 4
Master Mechanic scoring: 1. Jordan Vanacker (Owen Koot); 2. Owen Koot; 3. Owen Koot (Michael Smithson, Jordan Vanacker); 4. Erik Haines (Cameron Shoffro).
The Leafs have been to two tournaments thus far, playing in Meaford (Owen Sound area) and Wainfleet.
“A win and a tie, both times, and we missed advancing by one point,” said coach Andy Koot. “Yeah, they were nailbiters.”
Langton’s home tournament, the Joe Callens Memorial, is coming up in early January.
“Hopefully our guys are peaking at the right time. The whole regular season is just ‘practice,’ right?
“We might do an end-of-season tournament, too. Scotiabank in Tillsonburg donated $1,000 to our team, so we’ll put it toward a tournament. Thanks Scotiabank! We’re sending them a card and team picture to thank them.”
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