The Hamilton Kilty B’s and Fort Erie Meteors split Games 2 and 3 in home-and-home action on back-to-back nights this week, resulting in a 2-1 Kilty B’s series lead.
The first of the two games took place in Fort Erie on Wednesday night, and saw the Meteors come out ahead by a score of 2-0. Goaltender Duncan Nichols-Delay stopped all 28 Hamilton shots – including 13 in the opening period – for his first career playoff shutout, and third period goals from Luke Gualtieri and Michael Angrilli sealed the upset win.
Back on home ice for Game 3 however, the Kilty B’s played arguably their most complete game so far these playoffs to retake the series advantage. It hasn’t been pretty – five of Hamilton’s six wins have been in one-goal games – but the Kilty B’s have continuously found a way to come out on top.
Just 4:06 into the first period, defenceman Josh Hampel shot a puck towards the net that ricocheted off of Nolan Underwood’s body in front of the net, right onto the stick of Dylan Abbamont to open the scoring. The forward continues to have a hot postseason, playing a starring role with five goals in seven games.
At the midway point of the period, a less frequent contributor extended the Hamilton lead to two: Harris Goan. Sam Shakes dumped the puck in hard, and it bounced right in front of the net between two Meteors defenders who played a game of “Who has it?” before Justin Monteith swooped in. He stole the puck and fed Goan – known more for his physical presence than offensive prowess – who made no mistake on a tap-in.
Gage Stewart started in the Kilty B’s net in place of Braedyn McIntosh, who played Game 2 the night before. Stewart was beaten just once in the first period, when Kyle Adamo found a trailing Sam Barrett who beat Stewart with a backhand up high on the blocker side.
Coming out for the second period down 2-1, the Meteors pressed hard for the equalizer and were rewarded in the first minute with a Jayden Baldinelli goal, also high blocker-side. Later in the period Baldinelli struck again from a sharp angle, this time squeezing the puck just over Stewart’s shoulder (glove side this time) and under the bar. The three unanswered goals put Fort Erie ahead 3-2, and had the game looking like it could be a reverse of Game 1 – when Hamilton scored four unanswered to comeback for the win.
But with four minutes remaining in the period, Nathan Phillips beat Nichols-Delay with his own sharp angle shot, this one ricocheting off the goaltender’s back and in to tie the game at 3-3. Stewart made two acrobatic breakaway saves in the last couple of minutes to keep the game even heading into the final period.
Both teams tightened up their defences coming out of their respective locker rooms for the third, not wanting to give up the deciding goal and have to play from behind. It was about midway through the second period that the play opened up a little with some end-to-end action. Monteith and Matheson Mason had an odd-man rush that was stifled by Nichols-Delay, but an unchecked Haiden Lambert was trailing the play just close enough to put in the juicy rebound. What a timely moment for the defenceman to get his first goal of the playoffs.
Although Hamilton missed a couple of empty net opportunities towards the end of the game, it didn’t come back to haunt them as Stewart (and his posts) kept Fort Erie from levelling the score..