By Ken Pagan
Monday’s win clinched home-ice advantage for the Hamilton Kilty B’s in the opening round of the playoffs.
If the first-round opponent is the Thorold Blackhawks, it will be a heck of a series if Monday night’s tilt is any indication.
Nick Giamou scored the game-winner on a power play with 1:12 remaining for the Kilty B’s (29-15-3) to seal a 7-6 barnburner and fend off the fifth-place Blackhawks (23-18-4) for now.
Thorold scored four goals in the third period to rally back from a 5-2 deficit after 40 minutes, before Giamou’s GWG.
The game ended in a brouhahah as the Kilty B’s Cam Gauvreau and Blackhawks’ Trevor Neumann dropped the mitts to exchange blows.
“It’s such a good feeling,” Kilty B’s defenceman Jordan Van Hunnik said of pulling out the win. “I think it gives the boys a good spark with playoffs coming up.”
It was Hamilton’s first win in six games against Thorold this season, after playing to a tie in October and dropping the ensuing four matchups.
Nolan Slachetka, Ellis Rickwood, Nolan Underwood, Eli Rivers, Van Hunnik and Jacob Macdonald also scored for the Kilty B’s, who led 2-1 after the first period and 5-2 after 40 minutes.
Cam Lightfoot scored twice for the Blackhawks, while Nick Gidney, Sam VanderZalm, Joel Chauvin and Nicholas Rubino had one each.
Matteo Drobac made 28 saves in the win, while Noah Fortuna stopped 39 of 46 shots for Thorold.
For Van Hunnik, it was his first goal of the season – the last Kilty B’s regular to put up a number in the G column this year.
“I just saw an opportunity to go,” said Van Hunnik, who buried a feed as the trailer on a rush with Giamou and Steven Laforme. “One of our forwards was behind me, so I just took off. All the boys before the game were telling me I was going to score and I just used that energy and put one in the net.”
The Kilty B’s now have a win over Thorold, but if the two teams do meet in the first round, giving up six goals in a playoff game is not a recipe for success.
“We just have to do the little things that the coaches have been preaching all year,” Van Hunnik said. “We just have to continue to battle in front of the net, take a man, be on the right side of the puck and put those things together and we can be successful.”