Senior hockey fortunes lie in foreign territory

With only seven games to go in the regular season, the Dundas Real McCoys are driving hard toward top spot in Major League Hockey. The McCoys, winners of eight of their last nine games, sit just two points behind the first-place Brantford Blast in the standings with two games in hand.

The Blast, who will be host to the 100th Allan Cup later this year, have led the way from day one, but recently have shown some chinks in their armour, losing three straight games. The McCoys and Blast will meet for the third time this month on Jan. 25 in Dundas.

The teams have split their new year battles so far, with the McCoys posting a 7-6 home win only two weeks ago. After dropping their first four match ups with the Blast, the Real McCoys have earned wins in two of their last three, helping them climb to within striking distance of the always important number one seed in the league.

In a season that has been dominated by brilliant play at home by the top teams, earning home ice advantage may never have been so crucial. The McCoys are no exception to that, winning 10 of their 13 home games and losing just once in regulation time, earning at least a single point in two of their losses.

The Blast are a remarkable 12-1 at the Civic Centre this season, while the third place Windsor Saints, who are riding a five-game winning streak of their own and are still in the mix to earn top spot, sit only three points behind Dundas for slot number two. They are 9-2 when skating as the home team. Conversely, not a single team in the five-team MLH pool has a winning record on the road. The Real McCoys actually own the best away record, going 5-5 in their visiting colours.

Brantford is 5-7 as an away team, while the Saints are 5-6-0-1 on the road.

If the Real McCoys are to secure the number one seed in the league for the post season, they will have to do it the hard way. The McCoys play five of their last seven away from JL Grightmire Arena, including a lethal final weekend, where they will play in Brantford and in Windsor on consecutive nights. However, with the welcome addition of one of this league’s most enigmatic players, former Senior AAA scoring champion and Real McCoys’ fan favourite Mark Jooris, the Real McCoys’ might just be the team to beat.

Combine Jooris’ offensive flair with the “TMT” (not quite dynamite, but just as explosive) line of Todd Harvey, Mike Kennedy and Todd Hlushko, as well as the league’s top goal getter, Ryan Christie, the multi-talented Nick Smith and last season’s primetime playoff performer Rob DeCiantis and there’s no deeper team up front than Dundas.

Proof of their offensive depth was never so evident than this past weekend. The McCoys are coming off a pair of wins, a 9-6 lashing of the Petrolia Squires last Friday and a 7-5 win over Tillsonburg on Saturday, featuring nine different goal scorers and 13 players posting multi-point efforts.

The Real McCoys can move into a first place tie with a win Friday night against Brantford and can control their own destiny for home ice advantage thanks to their two games in hand over the Blast. Following Friday’s game they will conclude the weekend with a game Sunday in Petrolia before travelling to Windsor for a mid-week match up with the Saints on Wednesday.