Patriots upset Walkerton

Section: 
Sports

By Josh Howald

For the first time since 1996, the Mount Forest Patriots have won a league playoff championship.

Mount Forest goaltender Max Oullette celebrates one of two empty net goals his team scored in Game 7 Saturday night in Walkerton. (Josh Howald photo)

 

Mount Forest claimed the first ever Provincial Junior Hockey League Pollock Division, formerly known as the Western Junior C League, championship Saturday night in Walkerton.

The heavily favoured Walkerton Hawks dropped a Game 7 for a league crown on home ice for a second straight year. Last year the Kincardine Bulldogs beat the Hawks in overtime to win the West. Overtime appeared a possibility for a large portion of Saturday night's Game 7 in front of a packed house at the Walkerton Community Centre.

The teams traded second period goals. Justin McCrae struck first with a power play goal for the Hawks. But Troy Oakley replied for the Pats less than one minute later. The score remained 1-1 until there was a little less than six minutes to go in the third period. Ostop Mostowy appeared to chip one off the back of Walkerton goalie Ryan Winters leg from behind the net to give Mount Forest a 2-1 lead. Ryley Cribbin scored into an empty net with 1:12 remaining and Brendon Aitken scored into an empty net with 30 seconds to go to send his bench into a frenzy and the fans scurrying for the exits.

Mount Forest didn't take the easy way to the top. After sweeping the Wingham Ironmen, the Patriots went down 3-0 to the Mitchell Hawks. But no lead series lead is safe in the PJHL and Mount Forest clawed back into that series and knocked off the favoured Hawks in Game 7. They beat Walkerton in Game 1 the next night, but dropped Games 2 or 3. The Pats came back with wins in Games 4 and 5, but were blown out at home in Game 6 Friday evening.

The Patriots will now advance to the PJHL North Conference Finals where they will meet the Carruthers Division champion and perennial powerhouse Alliston Hornets. That series will begin tonight (Wednesday) in Alliston with Game 1 at 7:30 p.m. The remainder of the series has yet to be finalized, but it will be posted online on our website when it has been.

The other quarter-final series in the Schmalz Cup playoffs will feature the Port Hope Panthers against the Lakefield Chiefs in the Eastern Conference finals, Essex and Dorchester in the Western Conference finals and a Southern Conference final between Ayr and Grimsby.