Blues start strong, but fizzle

[attach]6825[/attach]Speed kills, and the Senator O’Connor Blues hockey team were caught in a track meet with Michael Power Trojans, the defending OFSAA champions, sweeping them out of the playoffs.

In spite of losing their late February series 2–0, the Blues entered the playoff series with the confidence and depth to take on Power, including a lineup of legitimate skill at both ends of the ice.

Game 1 was an exhibition of offensive prowess for both squads. The first period began with O’Connor getting a quick goal, 90 seconds into the contest. A one-man effort by O’Connor’s Justin Augusto gave O’Connor a 2–0 lead.

“We wanted to come out and give our best effort, it’s a playoff game,” Augusto said. “We thought this team is beatable, and for a certain amount of time it did look like that.

“[The goal] felt great. I put it in the net, so it was pretty good to give my team that lift. But, the first goal that me and the team going.”

But momentum swung hard in Michael Power’s favour. Closing the initial deficit with a combination of physical play and swift skating, the Trojans finally gained the first period lead after a bad giveaway resulted in an unassisted goal by Alex Ponzio — a beautiful effort that got by O’Connor goalie Daniel Vella.

“They scored two very early, and we took a timeout, we needed to settle the guys down,” said Ponzio, who noted the team wanted to play smart defensive hockey off the bat. “I think we weren’t focused into the game. We regrouped and came out hard, we finished checks, played well defensively, and took care of what we had to take care of.”

[attach]6826[/attach]That early timeout was precisely what the doctor ordered, as Power led at the end 4–3 at the end of one and notched seven unanswered goals in the second and final period.

“We all had jitters, everybody was a little nervous before the game, it calmed everyone down,” Ponzio said. “We were able to regroup and move forward.”

Despite three powerplay chances, the Blues were unable to close the gap. They took risks, leaving their defence prone to the Trojans’ overall speed in the open ice.

“If we take what we had in the first period and do in both periods, then we’ll get a better outcome,” Nick Lovatsis said.

The game provided learning moments for both squads, and neither team wanted to concede defeat or claim total victory, especially with a second game to come.

That Feb. 21 game, held at Centennial Arena in Etobicoke, was much closer on the scoresheet, but O’Connor was outmatched and outscored on the road, losing 7–4.

Power, and Cardinal Newman, who both made the TDCAA city finals in early March, both qualified for the OFSAA tournament, which begins Mar. 19.