Every shift, every game was a battle for the Tillsonburg Underhill’s Farm Supply AE peewee hockey team in its OMHA six-point second-round playoff series against Tavistock.
After sweeping Simcoe in Round 1, the Underhill’s Farm Supply Tornadoes lost in overtime 4-3 in the Tavistock opener, then rebounded on Feb. 2 to win 5-4.
“We were ahead 3-1 (in Game 1) and they scored two late goals, then beat us in overtime,” said Underhill’s Farm Supply AE peewee coach Derek Partlo. “We had a 5-2 lead in Game 2.”
Game 3 in Tillsonburg Monday night was another nailbiter. Tavistock scored the game-winner in a 1-0 victory midway through the second period.
“We outplayed them. Their goalie played a great game, but we probably missed the net on 12 different occasions, too. It’s playoff hockey, everything’s a little tougher to get.
“They’ve got some big, strong kids on that side. They’re a good team, they work hard.”
After scoring nine goals in two games, the Tornadoes were a bit surprised to be shut out Monday.
“We just need a little more touch around the net. I’d be upset if we weren’t getting chances, but we were getting chances.”
The series continued Wednesday in Tavistock. Tillsonburg needed a win in Game 4 to force Game 5, which would have been played Friday (tonight) in Tillsonburg.
“It was a really good game (Monday),” said Tornadoes’ goalie Sam Cull, “but I think we should have won.”
“We really outhustled them,” said teammate Aidan Ketchabaw. “We outworked them, but we just couldn’t get the puck in the net.”
“Their goalie played well,” credited Cull. “I thought we had it, but…”
“Their goalie was on fire out there,” Ketchabaw nodded, figuring they should have scored at least a few goals.”
Ketchabaw agreed with coach Partlo, the Tornadoes did miss the net a few times.
“A lot,” said Ketchabaw. “At least six or seven (shots) missed the net. If they would have hit the net…”
Tavistock’s Cody Wood netted the game winner to give them a 2-1 lead in the best-of-five.
“I’m good with their shooters, I don’t mind,” said Cull, not intimidated by Tavistock’s size. “Their shooters are all right. They’re tall, but I have lots of equipment on.”
“Their goal was kind of a flutter,” said Ketchabaw.
“It went off a player’s skate,” Cull noted.
Both Cull and Ketchabaw were confident they could pull out a win Wednesday.
“We’re a better team than them,” said Ketchabaw. “We just…”
“Just their goalie was on fire,” said Cull.
“Yeah, their goalie was playing way better than the first and second game,” said Ketchabaw.
“The pressure’s on us now,” said Cull.
“Sometimes if it’s do-or-die, we’re on fire,” said Ketchabaw, “but sometimes everyone gets so nervous they can’t even hardly play.”
“We beat Tavistock at Silver Stick,” said Cull. “We’ve beat them many times. If we get a couple, we’ll start working hard and stuff, probably win, then we’ll bring it to our barn and… win the series.”
That was the game plan. But Wednesday’s game did not go in Tillsonburg’s favour. Tavistock won another battle, 4-3, to clinch the second-round series.