It was a case of the midget versus the junior, and this time the younger one won.
Danelle Im, a junior MTHL hockey forward suiting up for North Toronto, chatted hockey with midget goalie Taylor Hough of Birchmount Park on the eve before the two faced off Feb. 14.
But no love was in the air Valentine’s Day as the two competitors fought in their last regular season games.
Im was on the losing end for the first time this season.
“I think it’s a good wake-up call for us to sort of review,” she said of North Toronto’s 5-0 loss. “We know what we need to work on.”
Though Hough’s tenacity between the pipes for the Panthers proved daunting, it was a short bench that proved costly, head coach Joel Gardner said.
“In the end they had a lot more footspeed, they had more people on the bench,” he said, adding Hough was formidable in net, particularly on Im’s hopeful breakaway.
Alone in front, Im was unable to solve the enigma of Hough’s aerobatics.
“In the first period we wanted to keep on top of the net as much as possible,” Im said. “The pucks weren’t going in and the goalie was really sharp.
“I think partly we were getting a little frustrated.”
The second period proved to be Birchmount’s regenesis as they shelled Norsemen goaltender Brittany Hartwick for the first three minutes.
Through that, North Toronto would suffer the first hole in their Viking ship’s hull. Right from the slot Panthers forward Shannon Misketis blasted the puck over Hartwick’s gloveside. Kaitlyn Keon assisted.
Not long after, Keon would add her own notch from Stephanie Cooper and Darienne Sandell.
The Norsemen’s ship continued to sink into the third period because the small bench was tiring, Gardner said.
“The second half of the third period — it came undone for us,” he said. “It was clear that our players couldn’t keep up with them at that point of the game.”
“We only had two lines running so we were double shifting,” she said. “I think it showed because at the end of the game we were losing a little gas.”
Misketis scored her second marker from Julia Forward and Jessica Eberts. Then Keon added another less than 30 seconds later via Kaitlyn Malthaner and Sandell.
A final goal came from Krystine Serra via Kendra Mallais.
The goal support was enough to elate Hough.
“I think this ties us for (second) place with them actually,” she said. “I’m not sure what will happen next.
“We’re hopeful for the playoffs,” she added. “It was nice to have a full bench today which doesn’t happen too often.”
With conviction in his voice, Gardner noted North Toronto will eventually have to face the Panthers in the playoffs.
Im knows they will.
“I still have faith in my team,” Im said. “We hung together and we are just going to get stronger.”
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