Stars one game away from semi final berth

 

By Joel Charron

Not even Tinsel Town could have scripted a better weekend for he Amherstburg Midget Major Stars.

The OMHA quarterfinals kicked off this weekend with the Stars taking the first four points in the six point series against the Welland Tigers in dominating fashion.

The Stars outscored the visiting Tigers 11-1 in two games en route to a 7-1 win on Friday evening and a 4-0 win Saturday afternoon.

“Anytime you can come out with a +10 ratio over a weekend, you’re obviously doing something right,” said head coach Matt Fox.

On Friday night it took a while for the Stars to get rolling, allowing Welland’s Jeromy Hopkins in get the series first goal.

In the dying minutes of the opening frame and the Stars on the penalty kill, Blaine Bechard and Eric Shaw notched shorthanded markers just 21 seconds apart to take a 2-1 lead.

In the second frame, Tyler Morand and Duncan Scott both found the back of the net to push Amherstburg’s lead to 4-1.

The Stars kept coming in the third with Alex Popel, Dean Shepley and Spencer Petrozzi all finding the back of the net.

“It was a great way to open the series,” said Morand. “We took it to them hard right off the bat. This was definitely the ideal way we wanted to start the series against these guys.”

Morand said the game plan changed when they noticed the Tigers had roughly 12 players or so.

“We actually didn’t know too much about them. We got out there in warm-ups and saw they had a pretty short bench,” said Morand. “At that point the game plan was to dump the puck in, hammer them hard right off the bat until they ran out of steam and pretty much take control.”

Less than 24 hours later, the Stars were back on the ice and picked up right where they left off.

Like Game One, Bechard opened the scoring on the power play with a blast from the point just 3:30 into the opening period.

Frank Desjardins notched his first goal of the series and pushed the lead to 2-0 just 10 minutes later, thanks to a misplayed puck by the Welland goalie.

The score remained 2-0 until the third period when Desjardins knocked in his second of the game followed a goal by Greg Fera.

Stars goalie Mitch Topliffe stopped all shots he faced as the Stars grabbed another two points in the six point series.

 

Stars sniper Frank Desjardins celebrates by throwing his arms up in the air after scoring to give the Stars a 2-0 lead in Game Two of the OMHA quarter-finals Saturday afternoon.

Fox noted the Stars did a good job killing penalties in Game Two, killing off two separate five-on-three opportunities for the Tigers but added he was concerned about the number of penalties assessed to his team.

Fox said that he was “very disappointed with the lack of discipline” noting that he will address his team in practices before Game Three Friday night in Welland.

“We need to stop shooting ourselves in the foot and putting ourselves in these situations,” stated Fox.

Desjardins said the two home wins were “exactly” what the Stars needed.

“I think we competed harder than they did,” he said. “I think we have more skill than they do and we showed it.”

Desjardins admits the Stars played undisciplined in Game Two but added that he does not see this as a continuing trend.

“We are going to be smarter come Friday,” he said.

The series now shifts to Welland. Desjardins said its up to the veteran players to show the younger how to prepare for playing on the road.

“We have to be ready all week. We can’t wait for the ride up there to be prepared,” said Desjardins. “You have to be excited to play. I think if they are excited they will play and they will want it.’

While holding a four point to none lead in a six point series is huge, Fox admits there is still a lot of hockey yet to be played.

“All we did was hold serve,” he said. “I expect that they are going to be a good team at home.”

The Stars travel to Welland for Game Three Friday evening at 8:30 p.m. Game Four is Saturday afternoon at 1 p.m. if necessary.

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