ANCASTER – Zach Nieminen, with his 10th goal of the Golden Horseshoe Conference Junior B season, and second of the game, gave Ancaster Avalanche a 3-2 overtime victory over Welland Junior Canadians Sunday night (Sept. 15) in the Welland Main Arena.
Nieminen shares the lead in Greater Ontario Hockey League scoring with Caledonia Pro-Fit Corvairs Connor Patton. Zach has 10 goals and one assist.
The victory was the second of the week for the second place Avalanche and third of the GOHL season. Last Tuesday at Buffalo, the Avs dulled the Blades 8-2 before dropping a 9-4 decision to the Thorold Blackhawks Saturday night in the Morgan Firestone Arena.
Next action for the Avalanche is Friday when they play the Canucks in the Niagara Falls Gale Centre at 7:30 p.m. Next home action is a big one for Ancaster when the St. Catharines Falcons visit on Dave Andreychuk Night on Saturday (Sept. 21). Game time is 7:30 p.m.
“I think we can definitely improve as a hockey team. We did a lot of things I liked, but then we made some mistakes as we continue to learn to play good simple hockey,” said general manager and coach Ryan Kuwabara.
“I’m happy that we can put the puck in the net when we get the chances, however, defensively we aren’t where I had hoped we would be at this time. We have a lot of new faces, and it will take time for them to learn to play as a team. To win consistently in this league you have to out-work your opponent in every game and limit your mistakes.
“We have a lot of work to do, but we are definitely happy to get these wins to start the season,” added Kuwabara.
Sunday, Nieminen scored twice and Max Balinson added a single goal. Ancaster led 2-0 until the final five minutes of the third period when Welland connected on a pair of powerplays by Matt Cuglietta and Brayden Stortz. Chris Klack and Balinson were off at the time serving slashing and cross checking penalties. Nieminen, however, saved the day at 3:43 of overtime
The previous night in the Firestone Arena, Zach McQuade and Drake Hart each scored twice and set up a goal each as the Thorold Blackhawks defeated the Avalanche 9-4. Matt Pizzo assisted on three scoring plays.
Thorold got an additional goal and assist each from Chris Goulet and Kyle Tanev with Chris Difelice, Kevin Lavoie, and Owen Sobchak getting the others. Ancaster replied with a pair of markers by Nieminen. Harrison Domagala added a goal and an assist, and Luke Zupan connected on a shorthanded play. Klack assisted on two goals.
Last Tuesday at Buffalo, Nieminen scored three times and set up another while Klack adding two goals and three assists for the Avs. Dustin Chenier, Eric Eustace, and Jake Milligan rounded out the scoring. Jake Bain had two assists. Chris Moses and Kennedy Monaco replied for the Blades.