but scored big with Minor Hockey’s youngest players
By Jan Dean
THE Port Dover Junior C hockey team played two games last Sunday afternoon (Jan. 12) at the Port Dover Arena.
The Sailors lost the 2 p.m. game against the Hagersville Hawks with a score of 2-4.
They seemed a bit flat through the first period and Hagersville took the opportunity to put two goals on the scoreboard.
Hagersville Hawk Peter Cappucci (Riley Pinkney, Matt Weston) scored at 5:16 in the first period.
In the last minute of the period Hawk Sandy Porter (Brendan Judson, Ralph Taggart) scored the team’s second goal.
The second period was the strongest for the Sailors. They outshot Hagersville 17 to 10.
At 9:50, Sailor Nicolas d’Agostino scored with assists from Ben Mason and George Kapralos.
That was followed with a goal from Sailor George Kapralos, assisted by Chris Giroday and Nicholas d’Agostino at 14:41.
But the 2-2 tie didn’t last.
Less than two minutes later Hawk Patrick Sanelli (Matt Weston, Sandy Porter) scored.
Hagersville capped their scoring in the third period when Hawk Wesley Fritz (Connor Spence, Harrison Brooks) scored bringing the score to 2-4 for Hagersville.
Hagersville goalie Jamie Ferguson got the win, blocking 32 of 34 shots.
Sailors goalie Andrew Hawkins kept his team in contention with some exemplary play but got the loss after saving 28 of 32 shots.
“You can play as hard as you want, but if you don’t play smart, you won’t win,” said Sailors Head Coach Mike Tobin.
At this point in the season, teams have to hit the ice ready to play hard. It’s the reason Hagersville has won 24 games so far this season.
The Sailors uneven play isn’t just about effort; the team has been plagued with injury.
“If you have three or four injuries in a season, that’s high,” said Tobin. “We’ve got seven key players on IR (Injured Reserve). They’re done for the year.”
One bright spot on Sunday was the play of Elijah Martineau from Flamborough playing his first game with the Sailors.
The stands were packed on Sunday afternoon and while some of those present came to see the Sailors play the Hawks, many were there for the annual Sailors IP game.
IP players are four to six years-old and many are learning to skate for the first time in Port Dover Minor Hockey Association’s Initiation Program .
The first half of their season is spent on fundamentals like skating. Saturday, Jan. 11 was their first experience really playing a game.
Playing hockey with the Sailors the next day was a huge thrill for them, their parents and assorted family who came to watch.
Six-year-old Bentley Samples had a blast on the ice. His dad said this was his son’s first year in hockey and he loves it.
Joan Benvenuti was there to see her grandson, Lucas Benvenuti (6) on the ice. Lucas’ dad is a volunteer with the IP program so she got to see her son and grandson on ice.
“It’s like reliving my son’s youth,” said Joan. “I remember him learning to play.”
Whatever stress the Sailors felt after their loss to Hagersville seemed to vanish as they played and helped the little ones. Clearly they were having as good a time on the ice as the IP players.
There was a price to pay for the experience.
“I’ve never been slashed so much around my ankles,” said Sailor Tyler Heisey. He was laughing when he said it.
For anyone jaded by the politics and commercialism of sport, the afternoon was a tonic.
The Sailors play their next home game at the Port Dover Arena on Sunday, Jan. 19 against the Niagara Riverhawks at 2 p.m.