By Ken Pagan
Bend, but don’t break.
It’s a message general manager Brian Rizzetto has been stressing for the last few weeks and the Hamilton Kilty B’s again demonstrated it against the GOJHL’s top team on Monday.
Goaltender Justin Easter turned aside 47 of 50 shots before Jacob McEachern iced the win on a breakaway goal with 1:02 remaining as the Kilty B’s (27-14-3) pulled out a 5-3 victory over the Caledonia Corvairs (39-4-1) at Dave Andreychuk Mountain Arena.
It was the club’s first victory over perennial powerhouse Caledonia since an overtime victory in the 2017-18 season.
Kilty B’s captain Jacob Macdonald said playing the Corvairs tight in previous matchups this season provided something to lean on as the Kilty B’s worked through the grind of protecting a lead in the third period.
“We’ve been there before – we’ve been up on them, I think, in three of the six games against them this season, so I think we’ve learned from our mistakes and this time we really bore down and the guys connected well and we pulled it out,” said Macdonald, who chipped in with two assists.
After Caledonia’s Cole Tymkin opened the scoring in the first period, the Kilty B’s turned the game upside-down with four goals in a wild second period. Matt Baumann, Nolan Underwood, Ellis Rickwood and Andrew Lukezic scored as Hamilton outshot Caledonia 20-11 in the middle frame.
The Corvairs poured it on the third, with goals from Danyk Drouin and Anthony Aguanno making things tight for the final 11 minutes. But Easter helped the club weather the storm before McEachern’s goal decided it with 1:02 left.
Bend, don’t break.
“It feels unreal,” Easter said after the game. “Obviously the boys played pretty well – they kind of scared me a little bit in the third but I just stayed dialled in and tried not to get too distracted. I just kept my eyes on pucks and battled through screens and was able to find pucks and make some saves.”
The win was the fifth straight for the Kilty B’s, a run that includes wins over the three teams ahead of them, including the Niagara Falls Canucks (28-11-4) and St. Catharines Falcons (29-13-2).
“We had a good start to the year and then about midway through we started to break down as a team, I think, but right here near the end, we are all starting to gel and I think you can see it on the ice,” Easter said. “We’re all working together and working hard and working for each other, so things are going well.”
Macdonald said it’s a good time of year for things to be coming together.
“The boys are bonding more than ever and it’s showing on the ice,” he said. “It’s more or less the boys are buying into the team mentality and we need to be like that going into the playoffs.”
The Kilty B’s host a rare Thursday home game against the Welland Jr. Canadians (5-34-4) on Thursday at the Dave Andreychuk Mountain Arena.