The Stoney Creek Warriors will complete the 2007/08 regular season with a game against their potential first round playoff opponents. This Saturday night (Feb. 23) the Warriors will welcome the St. Catharines Falcons to Stoney Creek Arena.
Locked in sixth place, the Warriors could face either the Falcons, Niagara Falls or Fort Erie in the first round, depending on this final week of GHL regular season action.
Warriors’ forward Greg Bryl said the team is chomping at the bit to start the playoffs, no matter who they face. “I won’t lie, I’m disappointed with how we placed in the standings,” said the 20-year-old native of Winona. “But I still like our chances in the playoffs. I guarantee we will be a new team.”
The Warriors have had a rough stretch of games to wrap up the regular season. The team is 3-7 over the past 10 outings, however, six of their seven defeats were by one goal and three of those games were lost in overtime.
Bryl, who was selected as the Ontrac Player of the Month for January, said it has been a disappointing end to the season. “I know it’s been frustrating for the fans, but I can tell you it’s been twice as frustrating on the bench,” he said. “We need to commit to D-zone coverage.”
Last week, the Warriors looked awful in a 5-2 loss to Fort Erie. Playing their second straight game against the Meteors, Stoney Creek came out flat and were punished with three straight goals in under two minutes of the first period.
From then on it was catch-up, and the Warriors couldn’t get back into the game despite better second and third periods. Scoring for the Warriors were Bryl and Riley Steeves. Adam Montgomery assisted on both goals.
On Saturday night, Stoney Creek hosted Thorold at Valley Park Arena and jumped out to a 3-1 lead in the first 10 minutes.
However, the second half on the first 20 minutes saw the Warriors in a steady stream to the penalty box. The Blackhawks clawed their way back into the game, taking the lead at the 2:48 mark of the second period.
After a promising first period, the Warriors found themselves behind 5-4 heading into the third period. The two teams exchanged goals in the third period, and despite pressing the action in the dying minutes of the game, the Warriors were unable to send the game into overtime.
Scoring for Stoney Creek were Steeves, Bryl, Aaron Gorka, Jordan Gignac and Andrew Dovey. Jordan Winger, Gignac, Dovey, Bryl, Montgomery, Steeves, Jason Popek and Mike Kavanagh picked up assists.
Coach Dan Currie said despite the losses, he believes the Warriors are playing good hockey. “If we play like we did on Saturday, we’ll be OK,” he said. “There are a few things we need to tweak, but I believe that if we play 60 minutes, there’s not a team in this league that can beat us.”
Currie said anyone who underestimates the Warriors will to win and succeed in the playoffs is in for a big surprise. “People can write us off all they want,” he said. “But we’re a dangerous team, and I’m confident we’ll be the surprise of this year’s playoffs.”
In the past two games, the Warriors have been working on different line combinations. Currie said he felt some of the lines were getting stagnant, and the moves were intended to “get guys going.”
Playoff match ups will be determined Sunday, Feb. 24 in Welland, and games will start as early as Tuesday night.