The season may be young but already the West Conference of the Ontario Provincial Junior A Hockey League is shaping into a battle royale.
While Brampton leads the 10-team division with 31 points, Burlington, Georgetown, and Hamilton follow with 22 points each. Oakville has 20, and Streetsville sits sixth with 18. But Brampton has played either five, four or three more games than the teams chasing the Capitals.
The Hamilton Junior Red Wings stayed hot on the tail of the division leaders Monday night, scoring a 4-3 win over the visiting Georgetown Raiders at the Dave Andreychuk Mountain Arena. Georgetown has played one game more (16) than Hamilton, so the win was important.
Both teams scored all their goals on the power play. In total, 38 penalties, mostly all minors, were called in the contest. Hamilton giving up three goals while playing shorthanded is out of character for the Red Wings. They lead the league in penalty killing with a 92 per cent success rate.
Tommy Cole, Spencer Abbott, Wes Consorti, and Steve Mullin would score for Hamilton. Josh Van Dyk and Mike Galbraith each had two assists and Consorti had a helper for a two-point night as well.
Matt Thomson, Jon Southgate, and Ryan Ford replied for the Raiders.
The teams played through a scoreless first period before goals by Cole and Abbott would give Hamilton a 2-0 lead before the second frame was half over. Thomson would narrow the gap with his marker with just under four minutes to play.
Consorti would restore the two goal advantage with just 2:12 gone in the final period. Raiders wouldn’t quit, however, and needed just three minutes to pull within one. Mullin’s goal, while Red Wings had a two-man advantage, would prove to be the insurance Hamilton needed for the win at the 14:02 mark.
The Raiders would find themselves trailing by one with Ford’s goal at the 17.00 mark but they were unable to beat Cam Talbot for the equalizer. Talbot stopped 24 of the 27 shots he faced while his counterpart, Keaton Hartigan, stopped 34 of the 38 Hamilton shots.
Hamilton next plays on Friday when they travel to Bramalea. The Blues are just that this year. They have one win, 14 losses and an overtime loss, and with three points sit dead last overall in the four conference, 35-team league.