The Avon River Rats made the third period against the Fundy Phantoms one to remember for Jr. C hockey fans Nov. 4 as they came from a 2-0 deficit to win 4-3.
“Down two goals in the third period, we decided that we wanted to win, and that's what we went out and did,” said Head Coach Rick Purcell following the game.
While he doesn't generally yell as a coach, Purcell said between periods, he had to light a fire under the guys. Once they got going, he said, they showed that the River Rats are a solid team, capable of scoring and hitting hard.
“They just had to be woken up, and once they get woken up we have a strong team, we have some strong players,” said Purcell.
“Once the guys start working hard there's no team that can hold us back, really.”
The Phantoms led 1-0 after the first period, and 2-0 after the second. Goal scorers were Matt Symes and John Tattrie, who scored on the power play. Assists went to Pat Morris and Sheldon Soucy.
Within the first 20 seconds of the third period, Andy West fired one past the netminder to start the scoring for the hometown team. The Truro team responded about two minutes later with their last goal of the afternoon off the stick of Brandon Crocker, from Kent Gallant.
Zack Patterson took no time getting one back for the River Rats, doing so in under a minute. Then, at the halfway mark, West tied it up.
Fans could be heard cheering and screaming 'shoot' as the clock ticked down. With just 53.5 seconds remaining in the final frame, defenceman Corey Dewtie bested Phantoms' goalie Brad Oosterum for the win.
Earning assists for the River Rats goals were Curtis Lang (3), Ben Ross, Sam Ross, Mike Misner, Patterson and Dewtie.
Oosterum was tagged with the loss for Truro, saving 30 of 34 shots, while Brooklyn's Jesse Lawrence was in nets for the hometown team. He faced 25 shots on net and turned away 22.
Purcell said West did exactly what he needed to do to get the momentum going.
“We have a lot of hard workers. We don't have any real steady, strong goal scorers that stood out yet, but Andy is coming along and fitting in quite well,” said Purcell. His goals “sparked us a lot.”
The game wasn't without a few rounds of fisticuffs, which also served to boost the team.
Jon Dunbar and team captain Dave Phillips both had good scraps that led to them being ejected from the ice, along with their sparring partners Dustin Marshall and Danton Noel.
There were about 50 minutes in penalties doled out to both teams.
“Dave Phillips, was called out by one of their players and — not so much that I condone fighting, but I do condone creating some excitement — and that created the excitement for our team to get it going to begin with and really, to be honest, we stopped taking stupid penalties,” said Purcell, noting there were far less penalties in that third period.
Purcell said the win felt good.
“Right from the beginning I had confidence that this team could do a lot of good stuff,” said Purcell.
“A lot of people don't have the same confidence that I do maybe, but I see it in the practices, I see it in the way they play. I see that there is a lot of heart to this team, and once they get going it will be there. So, to come back in a game like this, down two goals and win, is a huge boost to our players — they now know they can do it, so hopefully we'll carry on from that.”
This coming Friday, Nov. 9, is a big game for the Avon River Rats as they take on the league-leading Chester Clippers in Windsor at 7:45 p.m.
Purcell is looking for a strong start from the team, which is comprised mainly of local hockey talent.
“We can't start out slow against Chester and come back. That team is too strong for us to be able to do that,” he said. “We have to have a message sent out right away. When our guys are skating hard and hitting, they control the play.”
Purcell hopes hockey fans will come out to the Hants Exhibition Arena to give the team some pep when they take the ice. As a special deal, the Jr. C hockey club is only charging $1 admission for minor hockey players who show up wearing their jersey.