Avalanche need everyone at their best: Coach

Ancaster-AvsAncaster Avalanche are very much in the hunt for the Golden Horseshoe Conference playoffs in spite of their weekend split with the Thorold Blackhawks and Welland Junior Canadians, which has set the stage for three of the club’s most important games of the season.

Entering this weekend the Avalanche have only 12 games remaining in their regular season schedule and every game is now a must win according to general manager and coach Ryan Kuwabara.

“The top eight teams make the playoffs, and right now the top four teams would get home-ice advantage. It’s very tight right now for those last two spots. We need everyone to be ready to play a solid 60 minutes from start to finish. We have a lot of tough games down the stretch and everyone needs to be at their best,” said Kuwabara.

Friday night (Jan. 24) the Avs are in St. Catharines to play their archrivals, the second place Falcons, in the Jack Gatecliff Arena. The next night Ancaster plays host to the sixth place Niagara Falls Canucks in the Morgan Firestone Arena. Both games begin at 7:30 p.m.

Last Saturday (Jan. 18), Ancaster edged Thorold, 6-5, in a hard-fought game as Luke Zupan scored the fastest Avalanche goal from the start of a game (16 seconds) in the history of the club. Unfortunately, they fell, 7-3, Sunday night to Welland.

Ancaster scoring leader Zach Nieminen got the game-winner when he jumped on the loose puck and drilled a shot past Thorold goalie Ian Shorthouse as he dove frantically to block the shot.

In addition to Nieminen, Chris Klack scored three goals and assisted on another. Zupan had a goal and two assists while Brett Farrelly added a single goal.

The following night, Nick Camano, Ryan Knill, and Harrison Domagala scored for Ancaster in the loss to Welland. Bryan Komasara with two goals and Jack Fitzgerald, Max Cipriano, Chris DiFonzo, Matt Cuglietta, and Matt Mateljan with singles, scored for the Junior Canadians.

Off-ice activities planned by the Avalanche include:

Thursday, Jan. 30 marks the return of “Thanks To U Thursday”, and the first television appearance for the Avalanche on Hamilton’s Cable 14 as they take on the Fort Erie Meteors at 7:30 p.m. in the Firestone Arena. “Thanks To U Thursday” means that two-dollar tickets will be offered to all participants in Ancaster minor hockey and the Ancaster Figure Skating Club. The only stipulation is that team sweaters, jackets, uniforms or Ancaster Avalanche merchandise be worn to the game.

Saturday, Feb. 15 is Boots and Skirts Country Night when Caledonia Corvairs are in town. The night will feature live music, special prizes and discounts.

Saturday, Feb. 22 is Ancaster Fan Appreciation Night featuring retro jerseys, prizes, live entertainment, and much, much more.

Avalanche fans are invited to lace up their skates and play in the Molson Olympic Outdoor Hockey Tournament in support of the Ancaster Avalanche on Southcote 53’s (formerly Faloney’s) new outdoor rink. Tournament games will be played Feb. 20-23. Registration for the tournament is $350 per team.

Fans at each Avalanche home game are reminded that they can win a chance to see the Buffalo Sabres and Tampa Bay Lightning play in Buffalo (including transportation) on Saturday, March 29. A portion of the proceeds from the ticket draw sales will help support The Dave Andreychuk Foundation.