Kings Battle Hard But Lose 5-3 to Flyers – by C. Scott Holland

For 40 minutes the Komoka Kings battled hard to stay fairly close to the Leamington Flyers. Showing improvement and moreso with a rookie goaltender starting the contest, the Kings actually held a slim lead. In the end Leamington surged ahead and hung on to win 5-3 in front of 610 fans.

Even before the game began the Kings were saddled with trouble. Both goaltenders- Reagan Gies and Avery Hartwick were scratches while another four players were also out of the lineup. That left Komoka with 16 players and no back-up goaltender. Despite the lack of manpower, the Kings came out strong notched the opening goal at 6:16 when Joel Mazzilli’s right side shot skipped off Leamington starter Noah Hedrick and Isaac McLean was right there to tap it into the open side. Unexpectedly, one of the game’s highlights came early. At 7:54 Kings’ defenseman Tyler McLean tussled with the Flyers Nathan Skulley. The toe-to-toe battle did not see many punches thrown as the two combatants jockeyed for leverage but McLean appeared to get a couple good jabs in but it turned out that neither player won a decision other than the one given by the refs which was a trip to the dressing room. Leamington peppered Komoka goalie Bryce Walcarious with 17 shots and the 15 year-old AAA Middlesex Chiefs Minor Midget who stand s 6 ft. tall and weighs 140 lbs. showed remarkable poise. He allowed a goal at 15:29 when Parker Jacques’ pass to Zach Guilbeault was blasted at Walcarious. But Blake Johnson was on the left side doorstep and whisked the rebound into the open side. That one Flyers’ tally did not derail the Kings attack by any degree. Instead they cane right back and Mazzilli lofted a high shot from the left lane that eluded Hedrick and made it a 2-1 game in Komoka’s favour.

The contest’s intensity picked up slightly in the second period and the Flyers came out playing a stronger defensive game and pressed more. During the second frame’s first half Walcarious held the single goal lead but at 1:25 Griffin Robinson dished a pass from the left corner to Maddux Rychel whose zippy shot caught Walcarious off guard and tied the game at 2-all. Almost right on the heels of the tying marker came Jaydon Fetter’s wicked shot which sailed high into the to corner at 13:29 and suddenly the Flyers had the upper hand.

Heading into the third, the Kings applied pressure, but for much of the period the two teams battled for the puck along the side boards and the corners¬† The next tally would make or break the game for either side. Leamington’s Kenny Styles tried to go down the right lane but back passed it to Rory DiNiro who wound up and unleashed a high shot that handcuffed the Kings’ rookie netminder. After killing off a penalty, Leamington struck once more. This time Blake Johnson deftly slipped a pass across the front of the Komoka net to Cody Schneider who backhanded it past Walcarious to finish the Flyers’ scoring. But Komoka wasn’t playing dead yet. Mazzilli blazed a shot that bounded in off Hedrick to close the gap at 11:34. The rest of the way the Kings continued to jockey to score goals but the Flyers’ defense held their ground. The Kings pulled the goalie with 1:30 left but as the final minute approached, Komoka’s D’Arcy Panziera took a slashing penalty and Walcarious returned to the net.

NOTES:¬† Final shots were Komoka 31, Leamington 36…Komoka’s Walcarious made only two saves in the third to set a team record for fewest saves in any one period …A rare feat in the GOJHL and the West for that matter, on Wed. night the Sarnia at LaSalle game was a penalty free-contest. The game goes into the record books with several others that have been played. For LaSalle it was their first such game …In February the Flyers will play five road games including a Sat. Feb. 3 makeup at St.Marys and four home games. They will finish on the road at Komoka on Sat. Feb. 24.

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