Mooretown sweeps midgets

Tough finish for Kincardine in Game 3

By Josh Howald

A storybook season ended in a bit of a nightmare Friday night for the Kincardine Miller Insurance midget Kinucks.

Mooretown celebrates Bailey Smalls' third period goal in Game 3 of the OMHA finals Friday at the Davidson Centre in Kincardine. (Josh Howald photo)


"To sum up Game 3, the result sucked," said Kincardine coach Cory Hamilton on Monday.

Kincardine returned home from Mooretown last weekend in a 2-0 hole in the OMHA midget B championship series, as well as with a banged up goaltender. It was do-or-die Friday night in Game 3 in front of a capacity crowd at the Davidson Centre, and unfortunately it ended with Mooretown accepting the Dr. Leon Hipwell Trophy for winning the All-Ontario title.

Things started well enough for Kincardine.

"We came out very focused on what we needed to do to give ourselves a chance against this big and strong opponent," said Hamilton.

"We emphasized scoring first and we even did that."

The midgets absolutely peppered Mooretown for the first half of Game 3. They opened the scoring just three minutes after the puck had dropped. Sustained pressure paid off for the midgets at 12:41 when Chris Coady banked one in off Mooretown goaltender Cody Hitchcock into the net. The officials consulted briefly before declaring the goal would stand, to the delight of the home crowd.

That crowd could sense some urgency near the end of the first period. However, the Kinucks couldn't solve Hitchcock, despite numerous quality scoring chances. At the other end, Kincardine goaltender Jamie Brock showed signs of his injury the previous week. He made some big stops for Kincardine, but it was clear he was in some discomfort in the crease.

"He wanted to battle for his teammates, and we felt that even at 75 per cent he was still our best option, being battle tested all year," said Hamilton.

"I think he played well enough that if we could have scored a few more goals earlier, we might have been preparing for a Game 4."

Mooretown finally got to Brock early in the second period. With the teams playing 4-on-4 hockey, Garrett Miller evened the score for the Junior Flags a little less than three minutes into the frame. Kincardine and Mooretown traded quality chances in an entertaining second period, but neither found the back of the net again. Kincardine had to kill off a number of penalties, with Brock as their best penalty killer.

The wheels fell off early in the third. Jared Pageau scored the go-ahead goal 1:15 into the third. Then, just 39 seconds later, Logan Gardner ripped a wrist shot bar down on a 2-on-1 rush to stretch Mooretown's lead to 3-1. It was a power play goal. Mooretown put this game away a few minutes later, again on the power play. Bailey Wellington found Bailey Smalls with a gorgeous back door pass and Smalls made no mistake, tucking a one-timer up under the bar to make it a 4-1 hockey game.

"We have to give Mooretown a lot of credit for how hard they worked and how good of a job they did keeping our chances limited, and taking advantage of some of our breakdowns," said Hamilton.

The Kinucks were guilty of trying to do too much down the stretch, attempting to carry the puck coast-to-coast instead of moving it up ice with quick passes. That, as well as penalty trouble, kept Kincardine from ever really threatening to come back in this game.

"I think as the game wore on, our players seemed to struggle to get into the dirty areas to bang in the garbage goals that usually win you playoff games," said Hamilton. "And we got into some undisciplined play which never makes things any easier."

It was a tough end to a fantastic season for the midget Kinucks. Kincardine won the Archie McMillan tournament in Kincardine, the Wingham Regional Silver Stick, the Midget Madness tournament in Pickering and the International Silver Stick championship. The midgets finished with an overall record of 43-8-2.

"Although we weren't succesful at winning the Red Hats, the season was a great one to be a part of," said Hamilton. "There are some special kids on this team, and we had a ton of fun. Which at the end of the day is the most important thing, having those good memories to reflect back on."

Kincardine last won an OMHA midget title in 2012.

Hamilton wanted to thank the KMHA for giving him the chance to coach the midget Kinucks the last three seasons. Next season, he will be behind the bench of the Wingham Ironmen of the Provincial Junior Hockey League.

This year's midget team included Brock, Riley Cherrett, Coady, Jake Fair, Dayn Freiburger, Connor Gibson, Will Graham, Matt Harrison, Kyle Hunter, Brennan Long, Chase Meurs, Bradley Pickett, Tanner Reid, Skylar Rutledge, Ryan Thede and Rhys Vollmer.