Cody Chute is up front about the fact he's not a 'finisher.'
"Haven't got the most hands," admitted the Tillsonburg Thunder forward Friday evening inside the Kinsmen/Memorial Arena. "So try and outwork the other team."
As mentioned, Chute's game doesn't rely on his hands, but there's absolutely nothing to criticize about his heart or work ethic. All three came together Friday as Chute's three-point night helped key a four-goal second-period that ultimately 'finished' the visiting Tavistock Royals by a 7-4 WOAA Senior Men's Hockey margin.
Both teams were sluggish off the get-go said Thunder coach Jim Baxter, neither particularly sharp. But Tavistock struck first, getting on the board roughly midway through the first period courtesy of Reid Yantzi. The Royals' Tyler Townsend followed up at the 1:46 mark of the second frame, and trailing 2-0, Baxter went to his fourth line to provide a physical spark via a little old-fashioned dump, chase and crash.
"The main thing was getting the puck in deep and working on the defence," said Chute. "They only had four 'D.'"
The line provided an offensive spark along with Baxter's requested 'energy', Chute setting up linemate Travis Horvath through Christian Babb for Tillsonburg's first goal of the night, 3:06 into the second. Jason Skinner squared accounts at two with his first of three on the night 3:58 later with help from Chute; and then the TMHI product found the back of the net 10 seconds prior to the period's midway point, assisted by Ryan Potruff, putting the Thunder ahead to stay.
"We just did the simple things," said Horvath. "Dump, chase, got a couple of bounces our way, snowballed and kept rolling with it."
Tillsonburg's Adam Wallace rounded a four-goal run with 6:39 remaining in the second, assisted by Terry Lammens and Pat Ouellet.
Tavistock's Miles MacLean pulled the visitors back within a goal at the 2:02 mark of the third, but Travis Lisabeth and Skinner combined for a quick one-two scoring combination that both rounded the latter's hat-trick, and put the Thunder well on the way to a ninth consecutive WOAA Men's Senior Hockey victory.
Lisabeth gathered the puck up in the corner on the first after it flew high into the air, centring to Skinner on the edge of the crease with 13:52 remaining in regulation time. Exactly a minute-and-a-half later, Lisabeth pounced as the goalie mishandled the puck at the left edge of his crease, gaining possession and circling the net before finding Skinner in the high slot for an impressive one-timer.
"Nice for me and 'Lizzy' to finally connect," said Skinner, savouring the feel of a hat trick for the first time in recent memory - along with Tillsonburg's 9-0 start to the regular season. "All bonus at the end of the night."
Tillsonburg captain Brad Streib added a power-play marker with 6:14 remaining, assisted by Ryan Gaertner, before Tavistock's Chad Swartzentruber rounded the 7-4 final with 1:46 left on the clock.
"That's a good team over there," said Baxter, crediting first-level effort from his fourth line, along with a solid 23-save performance from backup goalie Neil Pittock in the victory. The senior hockey reality of jobs and other commitments means the Thunder have 16 forwards and 10 defencemen signed Baxter continued, and guys who have been filling in have certainly been doing their jobs.
"They're all good enough to be here and they've all contributed."
Friday's victory was particularly sweet said Horvath, given it completed an early 2013 season home-and-home sweep against the Royals, last year's regular season champs.
"It's like a pride thing," said Horvath. "We want to be the top in this league, play for it and earn it.
"We've got the team to do it," he added later in conclusion, "hopefully we're clicking at the right time."
The Thunder will be road warriors for their next three WOAA Senior Men’s Hockey games, Saturday, November 23 in Clinton; Saturday, November 30 in Komoka; and Sunday, December 1 in Monkton; before returning home for a 7:30 p.m. faceoff in the Kinsmen/Memorial arena against Komoka Saturday, December 7.