Bantams Continue Roll – Steam Over Midland 5-3!, News, Bantam, 2018-2019 (Grand Valley Minor Hockey)

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Bantams Continue Roll – Steam Over Midland 5-3!
Submitted By Hudson Cassidy on Sunday, February 24, 2019
Coaches Jamie Peeling and Darryl Bell have got their Grand Valley Bantam Twisters firing on all cylinders this post-season, and they continued this impressive run with a strong road win over a big, strong, and intimidating Midland team.

The Bantams have really taken the coaches’ orders to heart and peppered the Midland goaltender with 35+ shots, including an impressive 17 in the first period to jump out to an early 2-0 lead at the end of the first. Midland’s team is loaded with big bone-crushing players; however, Coach Peeling immediately recognized their weakness was a lack of speed and mobility. The Bantams had to exploit this opportunity, and Coach Bell asked his forwards to push the pace as hard as they could and keep the lumbering giants at bay – and the Bantams came out in the first and executed this strategy perfectly.

Owen T. opened the scoring with a great conversion generated by Nicole L.’s gritty forechecking and perfect centring pass. It proved to be foreshadowing as Owen and Nicole continued to be a dynamic duo the remainder of the evening.

33 seconds later an absolute juggernaut was unfolding as Yaseen H. was streaking up and down the ice resembling Boston Bruins’ Legend Cam Neely as he pounded down his wing raining bullets on the Midland goalie. With the storm Yaseen was creating, the outcome was inevitable and preparedness met opportunity as he fired an absolute haymaker from just over the blueline that appeared to have eyes as it snaked its way through the Midland D, tipped off a defender’s stick, and found its way buried into the top corner of the net. Some of the Grand Valley fans are still debating if the netminder even saw the 97 mph blast, but the result was the same, as the Twisters secured a 2-0 lead.

The second period started off well, and Nicole L. was skating with sheer determination and purpose, clearly on a mission as the Grand Valley fans started chanting her name. Jack M. flew down from the top of the circle and fed a saucer over to Nicole who one-timed the perfect feed off the outside of the post, and this close-call seemed to further fire-up the speedy winger.

Midway through the second, the Bantams were starting to pay the price for the late-night battle of attrition in Honeywood the evening prior and, to Coach Peeling’s dismay, they started letting their foot off the gas. Not good when playing a team the calibre of Midland.

Midland immediately sensed this momentary weakness and seized their opportunity twice closing the gap to within one goal and if it wasn’t for the strong steadying influence of world-class goaltender Darcy P. this game could have had an entirely different outcome. However, this showcases the depth of the Bantam’s roster and the high-level talent of the coaching. Even when faltering, they have the wherewithal to shift gears and put a different plan into action.

It was evident Jack M., Nicole L., and Yaseen H. were on fire and so Coach Bell started to load up the lines with this trio of sparkplugs and give his fatigued workhorses a temporary breather – a chance to relax on the bench, catch their breath, and watch Jack, Nicole, and Yaseen go to work and systematically dismantle the Midland team.

Even though puck-luck wasn’t on Nicole’s side, she registered an astounding 5 prime scoring chances and 8 shots on goal in one of her best games of the season. A short chat with her father, Grand Valley Minor Hockey President Brett Lyons, revealed that Nicole always plays well for Coaches Peeling and Bell and she was more than happy to pick up the slack as some of her line-mates grabbed some much-needed rest. Her partner in crime, Owen T. also didn't have puck-luck on his side as he easily could have secured his hat trick scoring 2 and ringing 3 off the posts.

Finally, the third period rolled around, and big Andrew C. and Quinn A. had gotten the oxygen therapy they needed and decided to take matters into their own hands. The game had drifted close enough, and they knew if they didn’t follow Jack, Nicole, and Yaseen’s lead and pick up the pace the game may not end with the result they wanted. Quinn appeared to be a man on a mission as he raced around the opposition's end and sent a glorious pass out to an open Andrew who didn’t have time for a full slapper but fired a deadly accurate snap-shot which found itself in the same top left corner Yaseen had targeted two periods earlier. It was an incredible shot and was just the shot in the arm the Bantams needed to get going again.

Carter B. and Cayden C. had started the game off somewhat slowly, clearly fatigued from their heroics the night before, and this goal got them back in the saddle as they both picked up the pace and began taking the game to Midland. Austin K. also seemed to regain his momentum at this point in the game, and the stars seemed to align for the Bantams as they took the momentum Midland had built-up and started to turn it against them. Carter demonstrated his solid two-way skills taking a page out of Sidney Crosby’s book and won key draws, broke up rushes, and was generally a thorn in Midland’s side. Cayden responded in the same manner and started making tape-to-tape passes with his D partner Andrew much to Coach Peeling's delight. Coach Peeling has been working with his D to make the right plays, don’t rush, and create time and space with strategic passes and he cheered his approval at some of the passes.

Avry B. and Cole B. had been playing a solid, no-nonsense road game all night and as the final minutes rolled around Coach Bell grew increasingly confident sending these two steady players out to protect their one-goal lead. Avry and Cole worked well together, and their strong play led to Quinn’s breakout at the end of the game to seal the fate of Midland and add the insurance Grand Valley needed to ensure the win. Even though it was an empty net goal, it was indeed a spectacular conversion as Quinn raced for the puck, out-muscled two large defenders, ferociously cut to the net, and selflessly absorbed slashes from behind as he guaranteed his shot would find it’s mark dead centre in the net!

The game had its highs and lows, and the Bantams struggled at times, but this type of a win is exactly what they need to build character and clearly demonstrates what a wonderful job Coaches Bell and Peeling have done in helping the team not just become better players but better people in the process.

Congratulations to the Bantams on a hard-fought and well-deserved victory in Midland!

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