By Ken Pagan
Good teams find a way to win.
These Hamilton Kilty B’s have to work to be a good team, but in doing so on Monday, they found a way to win.
Former Buffalo Regals teammates and recent Kilty B’s acquisitions Nolan Slachetka and Eli Rivers combined to lead a rally from a 3-1 deficit in the final seven minutes to force overtime, where fellow newcomer Matt Bauman blasted home the game-winner in a 4-3 Kilty B’s win over the visiting Regals at Valley Park Arena.
Trailing 3-1, Rivers banged home a loose puck with 6:46 remaining to pull the Kilty B’s (22- 13-3) within one before Slachetka tied the game with 2:33 left on a power-play, burying a Rivers feed in the slot.
“I was screaming for him and I knew he’d find me and I just tucked it home,” said Slachetka, who had been the Regals’ leading scorer before being acquired by the Kilty B’s Jan. 3.
“Eli and I finally got on a line together – we’d been separated my first couple games here, but once we got together, I think it just clicked,” Slachetka said. “I was happy to get to play with him again.”
The speedy winger admits he had been looking forward to the matchup with his former team for much of the last week and it was a relief to come out on top.
“It was good to get the win – especially trailing in the third period, coming back and winning like that just feels better,” Slachetka said. “We know we can play better, obviously. Getting a win here is huge. We knew we could do it. Good teams find a way to win.”
The Kilty B’s outshot the Regals 46-33, but it was Buffalo (7-26-5) that held a 3-1 lead with 10 minutes remaining. After Rivers opened the scoring for Hamilton on a power play in the opening minute of the second period, Brendan Krawczyk scored for Buffalo to tie the game. Hunter Litman and Krawczyk put Buffalo ahead 3-1 with early third-period goals, before the Kilty B’s mounted the comeback.
Rivers finished the night with two goals and an assist, while Slachetka, Jacob Macdonald and Andrew Lukezic each had two points.
Goaltender Justin Easter stopped 30 of 33 shots to earn the win.
It was an important two points for the Kilty B’s, halting a two-game skid and putting them five points up on the fifth-place Thorold Blackhawks (19-15-4) in a battle for first-round home-ice advantage.
The Kilty B’s travel to Thorold on Thursday for an important head-to-head matchup.