The Hamilton Kilty B’s have been building toward the post-season, with nine wins in their last 11 games, but facing the Thorold Blackhawks in the first round will be no easy task.
The Kilty B’s (31-16-3), who finished fourth in the GOJHL’s Golden Horseshoe Conference, host the first game of the best-of-seven opening round series against fifth-place Thorold (26-20-4) on Thursday at 7 p.m. at Dave Andreychuk Mountain Arena.
Game 2 is Saturday night in Thorold.
While the Kilty B’s have turned things up down the stretch, the Blackhawks held the upper hand in head-to-head matchups during the regular season. After the teams played to a 2-2 tie in October, Thorold beat Hamilton in the next four regular-season meetings, before the Kilty B’s got their first head-to-head win on Feb. 10, a 7-6 barnburner.
Five of the six games were decided by one goal, so the series promises to be tight.
The Kilty B’s have a few offensive weapons to lean on, including captain Jacob Macdonald, who led the team with 33 goals and 77 points, finishing eighth in GOJHL scoring.
Forwards Ellis Rickwood and Steven Laforme tied for the team lead with 45 assists, with Rickwood adding 17 goals to reach 62 points, and Laforme adding 11 goals for 56 points.
The duo of Eli Rivers and Nolan Slachetka, both of whom arrived from the Buffalo Regals in January, have been stellar offensively, with Rivers putting up 22 goals and 59 points on the season and Slachetka adding 25 goals and 56 points.
Hamilton goaltender Justin Easter led the GOJHL with a .927 save-percentage, to go with a 19-9-1 record and 2.26 goals-against average. Crease-mate Matteo Drobac was fourth in the league with a .923 save-percentage to go with a 2.69 goals-against average.
Thorold will be looking to Nick Rubino (23 goals, 52 points) and Dylan Scriver (23 goals, 50 points) to spark the offence, while Brett Bressette (13 goals, 47 points) and Trevor Neumann (21 goals, 43 points) have been big point-producers.