The Hamilton Kilty B’s came back from a three-goal deficit to beat the Fort Erie Meteors 4-3 in the first game of the second round of the GOJHL Playoffs, on a night where the overage Kilty B’s were honoured pregame.
Dylan Abbamont completed the comeback for Hamilton with his goal 7:53 into the third period, capping a three-point night for the skilled forward.
Out of the gates however it was all Fort Erie (4-1-0-0), the Meteors effectively pressuring the Hamilton defence on the forecheck and clogging up the neutral zone when the Kilty B’s did manage to get it out.
The relentless pressure payed off just before the midway point of the opening frame, the Meteors grinding out a long shift in the Hamilton end before the puck pinballed right to Joseph Macchione in front of the net for the opening goal.
A couple of minutes later, Hamilton defenceman Adam Clark was caught pinching to keep the puck in at the offensive blueline, and the covering Harris Goan got beat, resulting in an odd-man rush for the Meteors. Sam Barrett found Joshua DiFrancsesco on the two-on-one, and the forward one-timed it home to put Fort Erie ahead 2-0.
Things stayed that way until 14 minutes into the second period, when Macchione forced a Nate Tivey turnover behind the Kilty B’s net, hooking up with Hunter Zoccoli and Jayden Baldinelli, who finished the tic-tac-toe beauty.
Down 3-0 with under a minute remaining in the second period, it looked as though Hamilton was headed for its first loss of the playoffs, but a power play goal by Matthew Duarte with 23 seconds remaining in the period cut the deficit to two and ignited the team.
Then as the clock was winding down, Nolan Underwood flicked a puck high up into the air that was picked up by Connor Haynes, with a burst of speed heading towards the net. Haynes slipped the puck past Meteors goalie Duncan Nichols-Delay just before the buzzer sounded to send the Kilty B’s to the locker room down just one.
Giving up a goal in the closing minute of a period is always dejecting, but giving up two is borderline demoralizing – and the momentum clearly had swung to the Kilty B’s side. They came out of the intermission with a fire lit under their backsides. Tivey dumped the puck in hard, and it bounced off the boards straight to Underwood who clapped home the equalizer.
Given the momentum of the game, it was only a matter of time until the Kilty B’s took the lead. Before the midway point of the third, Dylan Abbamont took a Fort Erie defensive zone turnover in stride, deking his way to the Nichols-Delay and jamming the puck under his left pad to put Hamilton up 4-3. With an assist on the play, Underwood picked up his fourth point of the game.
Starting goalie Braedyn McIntosh recovered from a shaky start to the game to stop 24 of 27 shots, vitally shutting the door when it mattered most late in the game with the lead.