Malvern Black Knights arrived at CanLan Ice Sports Scarborough with big aspirations.
They wanted to win the boys hockey TDSSAA City Championships and head to St. Catharines for OFSAA.
But when they took to the rink on March 9 the Black Knights hit a titanic iceberg, coach Brian Spanton said, losing 4-2 to York Mills.
“It wasn’t quite the outcome we obviously wanted or quite frankly expected,” he said. “We came up here to win this thing.”
Seeded second overall, the Black Knights opened the scoring within the first two minutes with a shot from Allister Warren from Riley McRae.
However, for the rest of the first period Malvern goaltender Matthew Barr saw Titans red.
York Mills forward Stephan Francis tied things up by jamming a loose Nevin Cornacchia rebound into the net. Not long after Sloane Mogavero’s shot trickled in front of an open cage where Andreas Menes slid it in.
After the Titans third goal by John Maciver via Ian Chen, Malvern called a timeout with 3:16 left in the period to cool down.
“We haven’t played catch-up too often this year and the longer the game went on (York Mills) got a little confidence,” Spanton said. “You’ve got to tip your hat to them, they kept coming, their goalie played well but we were flat and in the end it obviously cost us.”
Malvern went on the attack in the second period with great chances by Andres Kopstals and Riley McRae, but it wasn’t until Andrew Hood scored that the 3-1 gap began to narrow.
A battle in the trenches ensued in the third with both team working the corners.
Grappling for the equalizer, Malvern made a gaff at the blue line that led to Menes’ scoring on an open net.
Titans coach Jeff Simpson was ecstatic with his team’s effort, even though Menes almost rode the pine due to discipline issues.
“We had a long talk,” Simpson said, with a laugh, “and worked things out. There’s a little bit of irony there.”
The Titans strategy was nothing fancy, Simpson added.
“It was classic York Mills hockey in trying to keep things extremely simple: dump the puck, play extremely physical, drive to the net, shoot the puck,” he said. “None of the goals we had were extremely pretty, but we did the simple things right and they worked as a team.”
With Malvern eliminated, the Titans next match was against Birchmount Park Panthers, a team they had beaten in the regional semi-finals and eventually led to a controversial seeding in the TDSSAA.
“We got a lower ranking than I think we deserved,” Simpson said of being seeded seventh to Birchmount’s sixth.
Still, they lost 6-3 to an offensively potent Panthers roster.
Even though the Black Knights season was cut short, Spanton admitted Malvern was gracious in defeat but again voiced the team’s disappointment.
“Talent-wise York Mills couldn’t even match us but they did what they had to do,” he said.
“I think the successes of the season outweigh the disappointment of today, but nevertheless I’m sure we’ve got, especially some senior guys, that are pretty gutted in (the dressing room).”
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