By Ken Pagan
It was only Sept. 9 and the third game of a new GOJHL season, but the intensity at times felt like it was Game 8 of last spring’s second-round playoff series.
The energy the young and hungry Hamilton Kilty B’s brought to their home-opener on Monday night made a difference in a 4-3 win over the veteran-laden St. Catharines Falcons at Dave Andreychuk Mountain Arena.
Hamilton trailed 2-1 after the opening period, but never backed down, responding with three straight goals to take a 4-2 lead into the dying minutes.
“We didn’t want to be outworked at all,” said Kilty B’s head coach John Barrett. “It doesn’t matter if it’s the first game of the season or the last game of the playoffs, the mentality of all the guys is just to never be outworked by anybody.”
Rookie goaltender Matteo Drobac, a 16-year-old draft pick of the OHL’s Hamilton Bulldogs who has made a commitment to the OHL club, stopped 44 of 47 shots fired his way to backstop the Kilty B’s (3-0-0) to their third straight win to open the season in front of nearly 300 fans.
“It’s a huge bonus for us to have a goaltender like Matteo in net for us,” Barrett said. “He’s just so calm and collected. Both our goalies (along with Justin Easter) have that same mentality, just to keep the game calm for everybody else. With having such a young team, having those goaltenders back there who can settle things down for us makes it easier for everybody.”
Andrew Somerville and Xavier Drummond scored for the Falcons in the opening period, with Nolan Underwood replying for the Kilty B’s.
In the second period, Hamilton captain Jacob MacDonald ripped a beauty under the bar on a short-handed breakaway to tie the score.
Adam Clark fired one in off the post on a power play 3:35 into the third period to give the Kilty B’s the lead and feisty Justin Monteith banged in the eventual game-winner on the doorstep with 12:22 remaining. The Falcons’ Carson Edwardson cut the lead to 4-3 on a power play with 5:22 left, but Drobac shut the door the rest of the way. The Kilty B’s were outshot 47-37, but frustrated the Falcons by taking away space at every opportunity and racking up more than 15 blocked shots in front of Drobac.
“It was great to see all the guys battling and working their hardest to try to take this game home,” said Drobac, an Oakville native. “I’m proud of our team, we all played a huge game.
“We were just working a lot harder than they were. If we didn’t come with the intensity that we had, I don’t know if we would have got that win. I’m really happy we were able to pull this one out and everyone was battling their hardest.”
Yon Shimpo and Andrew Salt each added a pair of assists.
The Kilty B’s travel to Niagara Falls to take on the Jr. Canucks this Friday the 13th before hosting a return match with the Canucks next Monday at 7 p.m.