I.E. Weldon Wildcats defenceman Jacob Downey slows down Red Hawks forward Braeden Robinson in Kawartha High School Hockey League action on Monday Nov. 25 at the A.J. LaRue Arena in Haliburton. The Hawks lost 4-3 to the visitors. /DARREN LUM Staff

Wildcats steal Red Hawks' joy 

When the Red Hawks Grade 12 player Paul Turner tied the game 3-3 with a little more than three minutes left it buoyed hopes for a comeback against the visiting I.E. Weldon Wildcats.

With a small but boisterous home crowd cheering that hope was dashed a few minutes later despite the momentum from the goal and having more available skaters than the Wildcats.

Unfortunately the Wildcats won the game 4-3 after Jackson Allen spoiled the impending party with a goal in the final seconds from an odd man rush following a breakout from their own end when the Hawks couldn’t keep  possession of the puck even though they won the draw from the faceoff.
Following a hit from behind Hawks defenceman Dylan Keefer was attended to by team trainer Brett Caputo. Keefer was assisted off the ice by a pair of his teammates. He will be re-evaluated but was seen in the stands out of his equipment with peers in the third period.

The coach hopes his player is OK and said it was a “dirty hit” and these kind of plays take away from the joy of the game. There was a five minute penalty and a game misconduct assessed to the Wildcats player. Additional consequences for the visiting player are unknown.
Morissette was impressed by the discipline of his players who did not reciprocate the hit with anything remotely similar.

Losing Keefer for part of the second and all of third period was a blow to the Hawks Morissette said.
“There’s no question. It’s difficult to replace that. We went down … to four defencemen and again could we use him at the end of the game to kind of lock some things down? Sure. The guys did their adjustments. They tried what they could do but again it’s tough. I call it lunch box hockey … you’re working hard. You’re kind of staying in there. You’re trying to give it your best and I still think the boys did really really well. I said to them you won your first game 7-0. That was a great hockey game but a very different hockey team they’re playing. A very different goalie they played in the first game. This goalie here was on his game today. And the other [thing] is this was a lot more stress. It was one goal [differences] all the way through. And I did expect that that’s going be typical of a lot of our season” he said.

He’ll be getting his team to work on the defensive end more and impress upon his forwards to not get caught deep and give up as many odd man rushes as experienced in the Wildcats game.
This game contrasted greatly with the home opener when the Hawks routed the Mustangs 7-0.
It was a back and forth battle decided in the final seconds.

Keefer started the scoring with an unassisted goal midway in the first period for a 1-0 lead. Wildcat Jacob Downey’s laser shot tied it up at the start of the second while on the powerplay. Downey’s teammate Jacob Moore put the Wildcats up 2-1 when he scored on the open side of Maddock who couldn’t recover when the puck rebounded off the boards to Moore from a low errant point shot. Hawks player Brendan Coumbs found the back of the net with a high flip onto the net from Isaac Little handcuffing the Wildcats goalie Ryan Trennym to tie up the game with three seconds left in the second period. Turner who was assisted by Braeden Robinson and Ty Mills scored with minutes to go while in tight (after a timely pinch by Mills) and alone on Trennym but the Hawks lost after giving up the winning goal with seconds left in regulation to lose the game.

Hawks rookie Grade 10 goalie Darian Maddock got the start and impressed his coach.
“He controlled his rebounds into the corner a lot and the truth is you can’t leave it all on the goalie. At the end you’re getting an odd man rush. And the truth is we learned a lot today about the fact I said to them ‘Really you have to always expect the unexpected and you have to work right to the end. Right to the last second of the game” he said.

The coach added the game was an education for him as much as his young players which taught him to understand which players are suited for particular scenarios.
Morissette said for now the goalies will alternate starts but will apply “strategic planning” later in the season. However academic responsibilities will trump athletics and will influence scheduling goalie starts or awarding playing time to players who he refers to as “student athletes.”
“We want to express to the players that if you want to play hockey you want to go on those road trips you want to have fun then you make sure you’re [fulfilling academic responsibilities] and then it’s all good” he said.

The team plays its next four games away from the A.J. LaRue arena and will be used for team building and bonding. Road trips Morissette said are an opportunity for the seniors to establish themselves as leaders and to instill respect in the younger team members.
Before 2020 the team ends 2019 with a home game against the Lions of Adam Scott on Wednesday Dec. 18 at the A.J. LaRue arena in Haliburton. Puck drops at 4 p.m.

Turner made light of his first goal of the season in the loss adding he doesn’t expect it to be his last.
He credited the visiting Wildcats for their play particularly the quick skaters such as Wildcats defenceman Downey who finished with three points (goal and two assists).
He adds the Hawks played strongly.
“All in all we played well. Everybody did their job pretty well and just barely lost” he said.
This is Turner’s first season with the team after not being able to suit up for the Hawks due to injury last year.

Although it’s early he said the team is playing well.
His hope for the team this season is to at least earn a berth to COSSA but believes victory at that tournament is possible.
“I think we can win COSSA if we all play as hard as we can” he said.
Hawks note:

The team has agreed to a scheduled volunteering day for Heat Bank Haliburton County a program of the Central Food Network this Friday at Abbey Gardens.
“It just gives awareness that the guys are trying to be good. They’re trying to be good people and contribute and help out” Morissette said.
He adds Heat Bank co-ordinator Tina Jackson will appreciate the help and the publicity because they could use more donations of wood.