Tillsonburg Kinsmen midgets played some of their best hockey of the 2014-15 season on the weekend winning the Roy Beechey Memorial Rep Hockey Tournament, sponsored by PK Construction Inc.
The Tornadoes took an 2-0 lead in Sunday's final, but they were a long way from running away from Strathroy, who battled back to force overtime. Josh Verschueren was the OT hero knocking in a Zach Schonberger rebound with 29.3 seconds left in the 'fourth' period.
"We've been coming out trying to get up on teams early," said Kinsmen coach Drew Sinden.
And they were able to do that, he noted.
"But we get those chances where it looks like it's going to put us up three, four goals... and then it turns around the other way. All the teams are good at the midget level that we've seen – Strathroy's got a great team. We knew they weren't going to give up once we went up 2-0. A little later they capitalized, got back in the game, then they got some momentum."
It's been a battle for the Kinsmen in the last four-five games, said Sinden, being on the wrong end of two or three one-goal games after outshooting their opponents by a 2-1 or 3-1 margin.
"These aren't do-or-die games at this time of the year – these are character builders. We want to work hard in tournaments, obviously, and do well there," he said, looking ahead to tournaments in Strathroy, Fort Erie (early December) and Silver Stick.
"It's nice to see they're hungry – I think we've been the better team in every game we've played so far this year. We've outshot every team we've played, and it's nice to reap the rewards of hard work.
"This tournament, I thought we tightened up. We played better defensively and the offence is coming – we need to capitalize a little more on our power play and our offensive chances, to get where they need to get to. We have a lot of talent on the team, but we're a young squad. I think we've got seven or eight first-years on the team. We've got some great leadership on the team, but when you've got the three-age-class it takes a little while to get adjusted."
The Kinsmen had balanced scoring through the weekend, which impressed Sinden.
"That's fantastic," he said. "That's a real boost to our confidence. It's nice to get some success early in the season."
Tillsonburg will get another look at Strathroy in two weeks at Strathroy's tournament.
"This should set up a nice rivalry. They're in our OMHA BB playoff loop as well."
The Kinsmen opened the Beechey Memorial tournament with a 4-1 win over Dresden Friday.
"Played unbelievable Friday night," said Sinden. "I thought we dominated West London, got up two, and they scored with 35 seconds left to beat us 3-2. Another one-goal game where we gave up a goal in the last minute. I think that was West London's only win – all the teams were so close this weekend."
Later Saturday Strathroy took a 1-0 lead, but Tillsonburg replied for the tie. And didn't give up a late goal, preserving the tie.
"I think we played our best game this morning – 2-0 against Dresden – in every facet of the game. I'd say we outshot them something like 49-9. Their keeper just stood on his head. It was one of those games they couldn't have played any better."
Pushing the shot total 'north of 40' will result in wins, he said.
"That's kind of our goal. We've got some guys like Marc Poirier – he's got a canon on the backend. Goaltenders just aren't ready for that. Once we start getting more traffic in front of the net, even if the keeper stops it, there's going to be rebounds there. And guys like Josh (Verschueren) – Josh has been scoring 'lights out' for us this year. When we couldn't score on that Dresden keeper this morning, he banked one in off the goalie from behind the net. When you're a goalscorer, those go in. It doesn't matter if it's a pretty goal or not – it's a hardworking goal. Once they cross the line, it's just a goal."
Tillsonburg 4, Dresden 1
Kinsmen scoring: 1. Jesse Dunn (Alex Sutherland); 2. Jesse Dunn; 3. Jarrod Winters (Seth Lamoure, Jordan Spitzke); 4. Marc Poirier (Jordan Spitzke).
West London 3, Tillsonburg 2
Kinsmen scoring: 1. Jesse Dunn (Nick Lanthier, Zach Schonberger); 2. Colton Lanthier (Jesse Dunn, Gray Sinden).
Tillsonburg 1, Strathroy 1
Kinsmen scoring: 1. Alex Sutherland (Marc Poirier, Anthony Abele).
Tillsonburg 2, Dresden 0
Jordan Spitzke's third-period power play marker sealed the Kinsmen win.
Kinsmen scoring: 1. Josh Verschueren (Colton Lanthier); 2. Jordan Spitzke.
Tillsonburg 3, Strathroy 2 OT
Josh Verschueren buried a rebound off a Zach Schonberger slapshot from the left point to win it in overtime.
Kinsmen scoring: 1. Jarrod Winter (Seth Lamoure, Nick Lanthier); 2. Marc Poirier (Jordan Spitzke); 3. Josh Verschueren (Zach Schonberger).