Hurricanes win back-to-back at home

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Tillsonburg Hurricanes coach Jason Dopaco was pleased with the way the team stepped up on the Thanksgiving weekend, combining to outscore two Greater Metro Junior Hockey League opponents 19-6 at the Kinsmen Memorial Arena.

On Friday Tillsonburg downed London Lakers 11-2, and on Sunday the Hurricanes doubled Windsor Aces 8-4, improving to 3-4-0 in the GMHL South Division.

"Middle of the pack," said Tillsonburg’s Griffin Sinden, who currently leads the Hurricanes with 14 points in seven games.

The Hurricanes opened the 2017-18 season with a 10-3 win over Tottenham (currently 4-4-0), but lost in succession to third-place North York, Niagara – last year’s regular season champs, second-place Kingsville and division-leading St. George – a string of division heavyweights.

That’s the group Tillsonburg needs to compete against, said Sinden, noting teams like Niagara, Kingsville and St. George are setting the standard, while at the same time not giving up points to teams lower in the standings.

"Tonight we knew we were playing a short-benched Windsor team," said Hurricanes coach Jason Dopaco. "We knew that they were short-benched but they had the right players. They have some good offence on that team and a pretty good goalie. The first goalie in their net was really good keeping the shots out of the net."

The Hurricanes extended a 1-0 first-period lead with a pair of second-period power-goals, and skated into the third with a 4-1 lead. The Aces kept pace with Tillsonburg in the final period – both teams scored three, then Hurricanes Dallas Routh added an empy-netter with 53-seconds left.

"I’m happy with the win," said Dopaco. "Not happy how we won, but it’s coming together. It’s really coming together. From this year to last year, I’m very impressed with the guys we brought in. The guys are starting to buy into the system and slowly, but surely, we’ll get there.

"We added a few guys like the Sinden brothers this year, they’re hometown boys. Griffin’s done unbelievable, Gray’s really kept up and done his job. We brought back Maxsim Korobienkov (No. 71) from Russia, he’s just been a goal-scoring machine. And then you have Dallas (Routh), No. 97, from Alberta, he brings in great leadership. He’s not the biggest goal scorer but he’s getting three or four assists a night and he’s a mean guy that knows how to use it. He’s a really good leader on the team.

"Kyran Karol, who’s shown a ton of maturity this year, stepped up to be our captain and he’s doing a real good job, too.

"So we’re seeing a whole different team – some of the same kids but a whole different team, whole different attitude which is real nice to see."

And more players are expected, said Griffin.

"We don’t have a ton right now, so hopefully we’ll just keep getting more and more."

Back-to-back wins vaulted the Hurricanes into eighth in the 12-team South Division ahead of Oshawa, Windsor, Toronto and London.

"We want to finish Top 5," said Dopaco. "That’s something as an organization and myself as the coach, I say we should be finishing Top 5. If all these kids keep buying in, we should get there."

Karol, a defenceman from Red Deer, Alberta, is a veteran of the team after joining the Hurricanes midway through their inaugural 2016-17 season (28 points in 24 games).

"They were a little low in defencemen and I kind of just slid into the No. 1-2 defenceman spot last year and this year it kind of carried over through the summer," said Karol. "This year we had a good start, and coach was happy, so he gave me the ‘C’.

"Last year we were a little low numbers, this year we have more bodies. Last year we had guys doing their own thing, this year we’re more of a team, we’re more bought in, more organized. Just a little bit of everything coming together more than last year, piece by piece."

Karol scored twice in the third period Sunday night, including Tillsonburg’s third power-play goal of the night, giving the Hurricanes a 6-2 third-period lead, and added two assists giving him eight points in five games.

The captain agreed, playoffs are a team priority.

"We just want to make the playoffs this year, make a good push – second round, third round deep, even if we get to the final that would be great," said Karol. "But we really want to make the playoffs this year as an organization."

1st Fish Fry Fundraiser

The Tillsonburg Hurricanes 1st annual Fish Fry starts at 5 p.m. on Wednesday, October 25 in the Lions Auditorium at the Tillsonburg Community Centre.

"We have Chrissy’s Catering hosting it and we’re going to put on some good Perch Fish Fry," said Ian Ellis, GM/owner.

Tickets are available in town wherever you see Hurricanes Fish Fry signs, including Sinden’s Paint & Wallpaper, Boston Pizza, and Chrissy’s Variety Store. Or call the Hurricanes at 519-573-7223 to reserve tickets. Tickets ($30) also available at the door.

"We’re going to do some raffles for some Toronto Maple Leafs tickets versus Edmonton Oilers… and all funds are going back into the team to help cover bus, ice time, food – all that good stuff – so we look forward to seeing everybody there."