The Stoney Creek Warriors stared adversity in the eyes last weekend and snapped a two-game losing streak with a 7-6 victory over the first-place Niagara Falls Canucks.
Without a head coach, and numerous key players out with injuries or suspensions, the Warriors travelled to Niagara Falls for their only game last weekend.
The Canucks jumped out to a 2-1 lead after 20 minutes. Mike Kavanagh, from Greg Bryl and Adam Montgomery, scored the goal for the Warriors.
Just 33 seconds into the second period, Bryl evened the score with Kavanagh and Montgomery picking up the helpers.
Niagara Falls regained the lead just over two minutes later and the teams treated fans to some fast-paced, end-to-end action.
Bryl, with his second of the game, knotted the game at 3-3 at the 3:54 mark. Montgomery picked up the assist.
Montgomery then gave Stoney Creek its first lead of the game, scoring at the 11:05 mark. Justin Sanderson earned the helper.
The Canucks came out flying in the third, and scored two straight goals to regain a 5-4 advantage.
Jamie Osborne pulled the Warriors even at the 8:23 mark, assisted by Riley Steeves and Jordan Gignac.
Kavanagh, with his second of the game, put the Warriors ahead 6-5 at the 15:09 mark. Bryl and Montgomery picked up the assists.
The Canucks pulled even just under a minute later, however, Cayle Creen scored at the 16:47 mark to give the Warriors the lead for good. David Ruberto earned the helper.
Newly acquired netminder Patrick Sullivan was sensational in his first start, and shut down the Canucks in the dying minutes to preserve the lead. Sullivan, a native of British Columbia, was signed last week from the Hamilton Red Wings.
He replaces Garrett Driscoll who was released prior to the Dec. 1 roster cutdown.
Bryl, who had a four point night and has been finding the net more frequently as of late, said the victory over the Canucks was an important statement for the team.
“It was a huge game for us,” said the Stoney Creek native. “While it snapped a two-game losing streak, it also represented a new revival for our team. It represents a fresh start.”
Bryl played on a line with Kavanagh and Montgomery, and the three accounted for 13 points and five of the Warriors’ seven goals.
The Warriors went into the game without a head coach and general manager. Glenn Walsh, who was hired in late November to replace Mike Schutte, quit after just three games, citing personal reasons for his decision.
This week, the Warriors hired former NHLer Dan Currie as head coach, and long-time Stoney Creek resident Gerry Andreatta as general manager.
Bryl said the team was excited to have stability behind the bench, and looked forward to working with Currie and Andreatta, who have extensive hockey backgrounds, both as players, scouts and coaches.
“We believe we can make a charge in the last half of the season,” said Bryl. “As a team, we’re pretty excited moving forward.”
The Warriors have two games this week. On Thursday (Dec. 14), the team plays in Thorold and on Saturday (Dec. 16), the Warriors face off against the high-powered Welland Canadians. Game time at Valley Park Arena is 7:30 p.m.