Flyers hand Majors third defeat
Kapuskasing Flyers forward Foster Barrette loses control of the puck as he attempts to slip a backhand shot past a sprawling Timmins Majors goalie Keegan Chum and into the empty net during the first period of Tuesday night’s GNML exhibition game at the McIntyre Arena. Barrette did beat Chum for a second-period goal to help lead the Flyers to a 7-4 win over the Majors.
The Kapuskasing Flyers handed the Timmins Majors their third-straight preseason setback as they skated to a 7-4 victory at the McIntyre Arena Tuesday night.
The Majors had opened their Great North Midget League exhibition schedule with a pair of road losses — 7-2 against the Flyers Saturday in Kapuskasing and 4-2 against the Cubs Sunday in New Liskeard.
It was a game in which the Majors actually jumped out to a 2-0 lead before allowing the visitors to real off five-straight goals to take command of the contest.
Austin Holmes got the Majors on the scoresheet just 2:51 into the opening period and
Linden Spencer added a power-play goal at the 5:32 mark to make it 2-0 in favour of the home side.
A constant stream of penalties that would result in four power-play goals for the Flyers killed any momentum that early surge had created for the Majors, however.
Martin Poisson, with the first of his three goals on the night, got the ball rolling for the visitors when he netted a power-play marker at the 10:28 mark of the first period to cut the home side’s advantage to 2-1.
That’s the way the score remained following the first 20 minutes of action, but the Flyers struck for three unanswered second-period goals to pull in front 4-2.
Jacob Comeau beat Majors goalie Keegan Chum 6:06 into the middle frame to tie things up at 2-2.
Foster Barrette then put the visitors in front 3-2 just 42 seconds later.
A Samuel Bourdages power-play goal with 6:22 remaining in the period sent the Flyers into the dressing room enjoying a two-goal advantage.
Comeau’s second goal of the game, a power-play marker, extended the Flyers’ lead to 5-2 just 45 seconds into the final period.
The Majors responded less than four minutes later when Evan Kentish-Stack scored to cut the visitors’ advantage to two goals and give the home fans a little hope.
Poisson’s second power-play goal of the game, with 6:18 remaining on the clock, restored the Flyers’ three-goal advantage.
Again, the Majors responded to cut the lead to two goals, however, as Spencer netted his second goal of the night to make it a 6-4 hockey game with just 1:43 remaining in the third period.
Poisson put the final nail in the coffin for the home side just over a minute later, though, as he deposited his third goal of the contest into an empty Timmins goal to complete his hat-trick.
Despite Tuesday night’s loss, Majors coach Kevin Osmars is confident his team is better than its preseason record might indicate.
“The boys are just a little bit frustrate right now because they are just playing with anybody (no regular lines or defence pairings), but I think we are going to have a very good team going forward,” he said.
“We have good goaltending, with three guys (Chum, Dylan Dallaire and James Carleton) battling for one spot. We have very quick forwards and our D are learning, so I think we are going to be OK.
“We haven’t really had a practice yet. We have only played three games of shinny.”
Osmars estimates it will take seven to 10 games for the Majors to hit their stride this season.
“We are going to surprise some teams in this league,” he said.
“It is up to us to catch up to teams like Kap.”
The Majors, who are coming off a last-place finish in the GNML standings, still have a number of extra players in camp, as the squad has yet to make its final cuts.
With 12 players returning from last season and their roster set for the 2016-17 campaign, the Flyers are looking to build upon last season’s success.
Head coach Patrick Millette, for the most part, likes what he has seen from his squad so far in the exhibition season.
“I think we could have started a little bit better in the first period tonight,” he said.
“I have to give credit to Timmins. They came out pretty hard and their physical game was pretty good. They brought it to us for a period and their goaltender stood pretty tall for the first half of the game. That took some wind out of us.”
Millette was happy with the way the Flyers responded to their first taste of adversity Tuesday night.
“This was our first game as a full squad, after we made our final cuts,” he said.
“It was good to see the boys respond positively to the adversity we faced tonight.”
After the first half of the opening period, the Flyers played with a lot of structure to their game.
“That’s the good thing about having 12 guys back from last year,” Millette said.
“We did a lot of video sessions last year and our play this year is due to the leaders on our team helping to structure the new guys on our team.
“We are at an advantage over other teams in the league because we can just step into our system from last year and go from there.”
Millette feels the 2016-17 edition of the Flyers will have nice balance, making it difficult for opponents to focus on shutting down any one particular unit.
“We have three good lines, as opposed to a one, two and three,” he said.
“I think that’s going to be one of our strengths right there.”
The Flyers finished second in the seven-team GNML last season and it would appear they could be poised to challenge for the top spot this year.
“It is really hard to tell when you haven’t seen a number of the other teams, but our goal is the top spot,” Millette said.
“If we don’t make the finals this year, I think we will be disappointed.”