Avs lose, Andreychuk wins in special night

It was a big night for the Dave Andreychuk Foundation on Saturday (Sept.21) in the Morgan Firestone Arena, and an even bigger night for St. Catharines’ Yana Rallis, who scored his third goal of the Golden Horseshoe Conference Junior B season as the Falcons edged the Ancaster Avalanche, 3-2, in a shootout.

Dave Andreychuk prepares to drop the ceremonial opening puck between Ancaster captain Zach Nieminen and St. Catharines captain Kyle Woodhouse Saturday night on Dave Andreychuk Foundation Night in the Morgan Firestone Arena. (Photo: Scott Gardner/Ancaster Avalanche)

The previous night, the Avalanche fell 5-3 to the Canucks in Niagara Falls. The Canucks led 3-2 after the first period, but Ancaster came back to tie the score in the second. In the final 20 minutes, the Canucks scored twice to seal the victory.

Saturday night, Mark Rodgers spearheaded the St. Catharines attack with two goals, including one on the powerplay with Dilan Walker playing an instrumental part in both goals. Rallis, who scored the game-winner, set up one of the plays. The Avalanche replied with single goals by Max Balinson on a powerplay in the first period and Ryan Lewis after 40 minutes of play.

In Niagara Falls, Zach Nieminen led the way for Ancaster with a goal and two assists. Blake Luscombe supplied a goal and an assist and Max Balinson completing the scoring. Cole Vinnai had a three-point night for the Canucks with a goal and two assists, while Mitch McIntosh and Marcus Michalski added a goal and an assist apiece. Spencer Leenders had the other Niagara Falls goal.

Following the weekend’s action, Nieminen holds down second spot in league scoring with 11 goals and four assists for 15 points in six games. Connor Murphy of the Caledonia Pro Fit Corvairs leads with 16 points.

Next action for the Avalanche is Friday (Sept. 27) at 7:30 p.m. in St. Catharines’ Jack Gatecliff Arena against the Falcons. The following night the Avs entertain the Port Colborne Pirates in Firestone Arena at 7:30 p.m.

“I am very pleased with how we played over the weekend even though we only got one point,” said General Manager and Coach Ryan Kuwabara. “On Friday night, we found a way to battle back to tie the score going into the third period and then backed each other up when things got tough.”

“We have a lot of good players that are starting to come together as a team. Our game on Saturday was definitely the best game we have played this season. The players executed our game plan and played smartly. It was also great to have Andreychuk at our game as we helped support his foundation, which gives back so much to youth in our community.”

“To be successful in this league you have to learn to play well on every shift and do all the little things well,” added Kuwabara. “We have another tough weekend coming up against St. Catharines and Port Colborne, however, we are going to try to get better and get two wins.”

Andreychuk won the Stanley Cup in 2004 with the Tampa Bay Lightning when they beat the Calgary Flames in seven games. After 23 years in the National Hockey League, he retired as one of the highest scoring left-wingers in the game. He was a 50-goal scorer with the 1993-1994 Toronto Maple Leafs.

His Foundation has three objectives: The first is to assist children in need; the second is to support causes for children and families enduring chronic and/or life threatening illness; and the third is to encourage the investment of youth and amateur sports. It is focused on giving back to the community through children’s charities and helping kids reach their goals.