Ennismore wins in four

Midgets knocked out in quarters

By Josh Howald

There will be no OMHA championship for Kincardine this season.

Ennismore defeated Kincardine in Games 3 and 4 of the OMHA quarter-finals on the weekend to eliminate the Miller Insurance midget Kinucks from All-Ontario contention and move on to the OMHA semi-finals.

"A couple of breaks here and there and it would have been us moving on," said head coach Steve Stepaniak.

After making the long trip on Friday to Ennismore, Stepaniak found his team behind 1-0 early in Game 3. Jordan Bell scored for the Kinucks to even the score, but the home team scored twice more to go ahead 3-1. Evan Brown cut that lead to a single goal, but that was as close as Kincardine could get.

Game 4 was Saturday night in Kincardine, and for the first time this season, the midgets faced elimination. It also marked the first time in this series that Kincardine had its full roster available. However, the Kinucks were short from the get go. Riley Cook and an Ennismore player exchanged some words and a few whacks prior to the game, and when the puck dropped to start Game 4, Kincardine was shorthanded. Sure enough, Ennismore scored on the man advantage to take a 1-0 lead in this contest.

"It ended up being the difference in the game, and possibly the series," said Stepaniak, who was clearly not impressed by the call.

Ennismore scored to make it 2-0, but the Kinucks battled back to tie the game on goals from Keegan McLelland and Cole Lamont. Ennismore made it 3-2 before the second period ended, and held on for dear life through the third period. Though Kincardine had chances to tie the game, they couldn't find the back of the net and watched their playoff run come to a close.

"Ennismore had a strong team, and they will be tough to beat," said Stepaniak. "Most people didn't think we had much of a  chance against them. Our guys battled right to the end, and gave them everything they could handle."

Ennismore advances to play Penetang in one OMHA semi-final series. The other semi will feature Ayr and Mt. Brydges.

This is the first time since Stepaniak began coaching the midgets five years ago that the team will not appear in the OMHA championship series. Three of those years, the midgets have won the All-Ontario title. He said he expects several of his players to make the jump to junior hockey next year.

The season, however, isn't quite finished for the WOAA regular season and playoff champions. Kincardine must return to WOAA group playoffs. Kincardine will travel to Wingham to resume those playoffs on March 4.