October To November Comparison – GHS Conference – by C. Scott Holland
Little has changed in the Golden Horseshoe other than the fact that the St. Catharines Falcons who had an exceptionally light early schedule have made up a few games are one of the hottest GOJHL teams having won six straight at the end of November. A comparison of how the GHS teams fared in October versus how they did in November does reveal some strengths and weaknesses.
The CALEDONIA PRO-FIT CORVAIRS continue to lead the conference. Sporting a 10-1 record in October, they have met very little in the way of challenges in November – and that’s with some overhauling of their roster. They pounded out 61 goals for in October which included a 17-1 shellacking of Pelham, but still put up 43 gf in seven games during November. Their offensive strength obviously remains while their goaltending and defense has actually improved. After allowing 25 goals in October, they have five consecutive games with one goal or less and permitted only 10 goals in those eight games played. This combination should allow them to be among the GOJHL’s top three teams during the rest of this campaign.
The ANCASTER AVALANCHE began the season as if they were possessed. In October they had a brilliant 8-0-1-1 record along with 55 gf and a rather high 37 ga. November has brought change to this club and while they are still a top contender, their record of 5-4-0-1 says many things. All four of those losses were to St. Catharines which has now moved the Falcons to within a point of the second-place Avalanche, plus they tied Fort Erie. Several of the contests were one-goal games which could have went either way. But the biggest factor for the Avalanche has to be their goal production. It has dropped dramatically from 55 to 31 and while their ga has been slightly better (32 ga) it will have to get better for them to beat the top teams. Yet this squad is very capable of maintaining or bettering their present position and could do so.
The ST. CATHARINES FALCONS played 11 games in November and won their final six. In October they had a 5-1-0-1 record with 30 goals for and only 9 ga – including two shutouts. They haven’t let up in November and actually have kept their goals against down – it is the best in the GOJHL. While they scored 49 times, they allowed 21 and carried a 9-2 record. Those two losses came at the hands of two weaker teams – Fort Erie and Thorold. Both were low-scoring, one-goal contests which could have went in the Falcons’ favour. Outside of a 10-3 win over Pelham and despite their winning ways, the Falcons need to get more consistent scoring. In four early games in November they scored four or less, but an increase in gf during their last six contests have shown the vast difference. Should they be able to keep up the pace they will overtake Ancaster and perhaps challenge Caledonia.
The NIAGARA FALLS CANUCKS are in a precarious position. They sit fourth but have three teams within easy reach of them. They went from an October mark of 4-5-1-0 with 37 gf and 38 ga to a 5-3 record in November along with 35 gf and 23. The improvement on both ends of the spectrum are showing. Two of their three losses though came at the hands of the teams just behind them. While they have scored as much as the previous month, it is their defensive improvement which is propelling them. That coveted top four position could be secured if they continue playing the way they have in November. But they will have to find a way to beat the teams (Welland and Thorold) which are within a few points of the Canucks.
The WELLAND CANADIANS made slight strides in November, but nothing significant to vault them into fourth. After obtaining a 2-6-0-1 record in October they ended November with a 3-4 mark. In both months they scored almost the same number of goals (22 vs 23) and had an identical ga for the two months with 24. They have either won by three or four goals or lost by that amount. The task ahead of them is to find some consistent offense while allowing the same number or less goals. Their best offense has come against Pelham, but there are only a handful of games left vs the Panthers, so the Canadians will have to start winning against some other teams.
The THOROLD BLACKHAWKS have had nearly identical months. They were 4-7-1 in October vs 4-2-1 in November. The one positive note is that they have reduced their goals allowed by a considerable amount. They permitted 58 in October and cut that right in half to 23 in November. Obviously Thorold’s defense and goaltending is doing a much better job, but one can also factor in that the team played five more games in October. Conversely, their offense has struggled at times, scoring only 23 times in 7 games. The Blackhawks will need to generate more goals in order to move up in the pack.
The FORT ERIE METEORS have had a topsy-turvy month. They were 4-4-0 in October with adequate goal production (34 gf). But in November have struggled to gain victories ending the month with just 2 wins. Biggest obstacle for them has been scoring goals. They managed to light up the red light only 21 times while allowing 41 to get tabbed on them. Most top teams have feasted on them otherwise their scores have been reasonable. Much improvement needs to be done for them to move up the ladder and be more competitive.
The PELHAM PANTHERS have not won a single game all season, but have skated to four overtime losses. This team is both offensively and defensively challenged. They ended October horrendously with a 17-1 whitewashing supplied by Caledonia. If that wasn’t a wake-up call, then they won’t get any others. They continued their losing streak in November with a 0-7-1 record. There has been no discernible difference between the two months. Just 18 gf in October vs 14 in November and 71 ga vs 53 in November. Most scores have the winning team up by five goals. Their best contest to date was a 7-6 OTL in October; twice in November they actually scored three goals in a game, one of those was a 4-3 OTL. This team needs a complete overhaul or at least get a player or two who can score some goals to make the losses more reasonable. It’s sad to say, but Pelham is having a long season and their playoff prospects are looking very short unless some major changes happen.
Scott Holland is an accomplished author, a former Western Jr. B Hockey League statistician and is recognized as the West Conference’s and GOJHL’s historian. A lifelong resident of Leamington Scott was a journalist for the now defunct Leamington Post for 26 years and currently writes for the Southpoint Sun. Among the books he has authored are: 75 Years: A History of the Leamington and Erie Shores Golf Course; A Century In The Making – History of Heinz Canada 1909-2009; Leamington Flyers 1992/93-2011/12 Platinum Anniversary Special Program; the Western Jr. B Record Book 2003/04 and 2005/05 editions; as well as updates of both the West Conference and GOJHL Record Books. He was been a member of he Leamington Jr. Flyers hockey club for the last 27 years and served many years as a board member, statistician, press box announcer, and scorekeeper among other duties. He has been named the West Conference Volunteer of Year and a Windsor-Essex Sportsperson of Year award. He resides in Leamington with his wife Susan. He can be reached at email@example.com