Welcome to the world of zero tolerance in the Ontario Provincial Junior A Hockey League.
Prior to the start of the 2006-07 season, teams had been told that a new standard of officiating would be applied this term, not unlike that used in the National and American hockey league last season. Seeking to exploit the inherent speed of the sport, Canada’s Junior A Hockey officials moved last spring to clamp down on clutching, stick tugging and anything else that would impede a player’s progress. It was up to individual team coaches and managers to drive that point home to their players heading into this campaign.
Monday night at the Dave Andreychuk Mountain Arena, the Hamilton Junior Red Wings had all their questions answered about rule applications. Forty-eight penalties (including two game misconducts) were assessed to the Wings and the visiting Milton Ice Hawks in the meeting of West Division rivals.
While it was Milton third league game, the Red Wings were playing their first contest under the new system.
“It’s something they are going to have to get used to,” said Hamilton coach John McDonald, whose team took 24 of the penalties. “They didn’t let us use it in the preseason games, so this was their first time playing under the new standard.”
The Wings appear to have made the adjustment. They ended up on the positive side of a 7-1 season and home opener that featured three shorthanded goals and three powerplay efforts from the Wings and one powerplay effort from the Ice Hawks. The game’s only even strength marker wasn’t scored until the third period when Mike Galbraith gave Hamilton a 6-1 lead.
At least McDonald came away from the game knowing his specialty teams – penalty killing and power play units – seem to be in order. “We have some good speed and others teams are going to have to contend with that.”
Galbraith (2), Chris Dunsmuir, Spencer Abbott, Steve Mullin, Wes Consorti, and Frankie Grandits had the Red Wings goals. Grandits and Dustin Alcock each had two assists.
Milton’s lone tally was scored by David Vallorani on a five-on-three situation.
The Ice Hawks remain winless in three starts. The Ice Hawks don’t have one returning player from last year’s team. The Red Wings tested Ice Hawks goalie Vince Cusick of Hamilton with 36 shots on net while Cameron Talbot in the Hamilton net, stopped 11 shots.
The Red Wings visit the Oakville Blades on Friday night, play in Mississauga on Sunday afternoon, and they welcome the Blades to the Mountain Arena on Monday (7.30 pm).