St. Catharines Saints closed the home portion of their regular season with a 15 - 7 win over Owen Sound in what was an odd one that saw the North Stars build a well-earned 5 - 2 lead late in the first period only to be shut down for the next 40-plus minutes of play.
Saints' Chris Attwood and Stars' Travis Gibbons traded a pair early before a nice three-goal run in about a three-minute span pushed Owen Sound into the catbird's seat. Ex-Saint Scott Komer was playing well in goal for the visitors, the North Stars were quick, confident and out-hustling the Saints, and quite honestly, they looked like anything but a fifth-place team.
However Sounders fortunes faded fast with a couple of last half-minute of play lightning strikes as Scott Defransesco snapped off the deep quick-stick power-play goal shortly before a pre-designed, time-out play sent an array of through-the-middle decoy cutters to eventually spring Dylan Llord into a good look position which was buried from 20 feet out. Score after one was 5 - 4 for Owen Sound.
Saints replaced David DiRuscio with Grant Crawley in the net to start the third and they then proceeded to tie the score early on another right-side, quick-stick swing shot as Komer perhaps overplayed the outside shooter. Owen Sound was still very much in it and deservedly so, they had played very well. But their body language perceptively changed from what it was before their three-goal lead was ripped away. St. Catharines would score six more in period two...Spencer Allen on a slow-to-develop transition break-away that had the Stars hanging deep trying to steal the ball, and a couple of reach-around markers from Llord and Allen that Komer may have considered filing for non-support. Score after two was 11 - 5 for St. Catharines.
With Chris Janese off at the start of the third, penalty-killer Allen ran around the right side without too much resistance to notch his hat trick marker. While the teams meandered back to centre, Sounders' Tyler Gibbons attempted to provide Chris Attwood with an attitude adjustment that saw the referees dive quickly to the floor before too much damage could be done...Gibbons getting the two-five-and-game. St. Catharines would score three more and normally even-tempered Janese would get into a spirited fight with Curt Gibbons that went to the mat. Janese scored a few late to take the decision but there was plenty of give and take between the two of them. Gibbons seemed prepared to take on the Saints bench as he left the floor and the ensuing wide-spread chatter pushed tensions even higher.
But then shortly after, a lacrosse game broke out and the long evening wound down with a Saints' 15 - 5 lead. After a long dry spell, the Owen Sound attack erupted with two goals in the final 69 seconds, both coming from mid-range shots from the left side. And that's the way the game ended, a 15 - 7 victory for the now 12W - 3L St. Catharines Saints.
My unofficial tally of hat-tricks on the night gives fedoras to Spencer Allen, Chris Attwood, Dylan Llord and Duey Porter, while Travis Gibbons had his own with his usual strong game for Owen Sound.
The Saints close their regular season with an important game at Six Nations on Sunday that likely will determine a first round bye for one of those two teams. While Owen Sound in a serious battle with Sarnia for a more favourable playoff seeding will entertain the first place Ennismore James Gang on Saturday evening at the Bayshore Arena.
Lastly it was officially announced this week that St. Catharines will host the 2015 President's Cup Senior B Championship at either the Jack Gatecliff Arena or the new Meridian Arena...some exciting days coming August 31st to September 6th of next year.
And that's the view from the cheap seats.
by Homer Bridge