Warriors hope to close out 2007 with extended winning streak

The Stoney Creek Warriors put their three-game winning streak on the line Friday (Dec. 21) when they face off against the red hot St. Catharines Falcons.

The game has high stakes for both teams, as the Falcons are in the midst of a six-game winning streak, and sit atop the Golden Horseshoe League standings.

“The way I see, this is one of the most important games of the year,” said Warriors captain Mike Kavanagh. “We just beat three of the top teams in this league, and a win against St. Catharines would really make a statement that our team is here to win games.”

During the Warriors’ mini win streak, Kavanagh has recorded five goals and four assists. While he was satisfied to contribute with some offense, he said the team’s success is all about confidence. “We’ve got a great team and this winning streak has really propped up our spirits,” he said.

The Warriors kicked off their resurgent Junior B efforts Dec. 8 when they beat the Niagara Falls Canucks, 7-6, in the Honeymoon Capital.

Five days later, the Warriors travelled to Thorold and dominated the host Blackhawks en route to a convincing 5-1 win. The game marked the debut of new goaltender Patrick Sullivan, a native of British Columbia. Sullivan was acquired from the Hamilton Red Wings, and gives the Warriors a legitimate No. 1 netminder.

After a scoreless first period, the Warriors jumped to a 2-0 lead and never looked back. Stoney Creek led 2-1 after 40 minutes and added three more goals in the third to seal the victory. Scoring for the Warriors were Riley Steeves, Mitchell Merante, Jordan Gignac, David Ruberto and Kavanagh. Devon Thomson had two assists.

On Saturday night, the Warriors hosted the Welland Canadians, who currently boast the GHL’s most potent offensive unit.

After falling behind 2-0 in the first period, and watching their new goaltender carted off the ice with an ankle injury, the Warriors came out on a mission in the second period, scoring five goals and taking a 5-3 lead into the final 20 minutes. Kavanagh, Steeves, Marcus Ruberto, Jamie Osborne and Jason Popek found the back of the net in the second period. Jordan Winger had two assists.

In the third period, the Warriors scored four more times to make the final 9-5. Kavanagh and Osborne each scored their second of the night, while Adam Montgomery and Jordan Gignac added single markers. Dylan Ellis earned the win with over 40 minutes of solid play between the pipes.

“The boys really did a great job against Thorold and Welland and really worked hard,” said coach Dan Currie. “They competed hard and won the battles, especially in the second and third periods of both games.” Currie, who is a perfect 2-0 since taking over as head coach, said he’s extremely impressed with his new team. “They’ve shown me that they have a lot of character,” he said. “On Saturday night, after going down 2-0 and watching our goaltender get hurt, they could have easily folded. But they didn’t.”

The Warriors continue to play with a short bench. Defenceman Mike Gibson and Aaron Gorka are expected back in the line up this weekend. Andrew Dovey, the team’s leading scorer, left the team two weeks ago and is not expected back. Long-time Warrior Sean Murray has also been missing in action.

Despite the absence of two key players, as well as a litany of injuries, the Warriors are finding ways to succeed.

The Warriors face off against the Falcons in St. Catharines on Friday (Dec. 21) at Jack Gatecliff Arena, 7:30 p.m. The Warriors host Wheatfield the following night in their last game of 2007. The game will be played at Stoney Creek Arena. Game time is 7:30 p.m.