Glendale High School Gemini boys hockey team outgunned Dorchester 8-1 Monday and 8-1 Tuesday to sweep their TVRA East best-of-three quarter-final.
Dorchester and College Avenue, the fourth and fifth-place teams, had met in a preliminary playoff game on Feb. 7, with Dorchester eliminating winless CASS 5-2 to set up the series against first-place Glendale (6-0-1).
Semifinals will be a cross-over round against teams from TVRA South, led by first-place Parkside (Game 3 against Central Elgin was played Wednesday afternoon) and second-place East Elgin, who knocked off West Elgin 7-4 and 6-1).
"If you win that, you go to the Thames Valley championship," said Gemini coach Derek Partlo, "with whoever won the other cross-over."
Undefeated in the regular season, their only tie came against Huron Park on Dec. 19 (6-6).
"It's been a good year - a good team," said Partlo, who also coaches the TMHI Kinsmen midget rep hockey team.
"I kind of had an advantage having these guys in September as my midget team rather than starting up in November."
Only two Gemini - Spencer McDowell and Griffin Sinden - are not also on Tillsonburg's midget rep team.
"We've got eight Grade 12s, five or six Grade 11s, and five Grade 10s, so a good mix."
Andrew Hamm, who got the win Monday, and Tyler Hildebrant share the goaltending.
Like the Gemini, the Kinsmen midgets had an excellent regular season, going 13-0-1 before losing their first Southern Counties game (3-2) to Caledonia in December. They finished out the regular season on a 5-0-1 run.
"We were doing well till we got beat out of OMHAs," Partlo smiled. "We swept Caledonia in Round 1, then got beat in five games by Erin-Hillsburgh."
They had their chances against Erin-Hillsburgh, he said, recalling games when they had 4-0 and 3-0 leads.
"Had three leads in their barn and lost every game there. The hockey gods were not shining on us. In Game 1 we had a 4-3 lead with eight minutes left, lost in regulation - they had two power-play goals. In Game 2, tied 2-2, outplayed them just couldn't come out with the extra goal. In Game 3 we had a 4-0 lead eight minutes in, and lost 5-4. In Game 4 at home, beat them 5-1, dominated them. In Game 5 we were up 3-0 going into the third, they scored four goals in the next six minutes. It was a little bit of everything - a bad bounce, a tip, one good play... a bad play by us. We had a timeout, tried everything, we just couldn't get it back."
In tournament play they lost 3-2 in a shootout against Caledonia in the Regional Silver Stick Tournament finals, a team they had defeated four times this season. They reached the finals of a Fort Erie A tournament, going undefeated until a 6-3 loss to Port Perry in the finals.
"We just never really won the big game when we had to."
A Southern Counties title is still in sight, but SCMHA does not have the glamour of a deep OMHA BB playdown run... or OFSAA, which the Gemini still have a shot at.
"If we win Thames Valley, we'll go to WOSSAA in Clinton - WOSSAA is a four-team semifinal/final," said Partlo. "I think it's March 6th. And if we win that, OFSAA is in Fort Frances (west of Thunder Bay). "
London teams have dominated WOSSAA the past three years - STA won last year, and London South won back-to-back prior to that.
"They're going to be good," said Partlo, "because their Midget AAA London Junior Knights, they're No. 1 in Ontario. Depends how many of them they have."
With some big games coming up, Partlo said the team will need to be a bit more dedicated to defensive play and defensive structure.
"A lot of times that's just guts and hard work... be more determined than the other guy."
Glendale 8, Dorchester 1
Gemini scoring: 1. Brandon Odorjan (Nick Lanthier, Andrew Hamm); 2. Matt Meharg (Shane Brazier, Seth Lamoure); 3. Griffin Sinden (Alex Sutherland, Nick Lanthier); 4. Shane Brazier (Alex Sutherland, Matt Meharg); 5. Logan Partlo (Griffin Sinden, Nehemiah Dube); 6. Logan Partlo (Nick Lanthier); 7. Nick Lanthier; 8. Shane Brazier (Seth Lamoure, Matt Meharg).