DARRYL KNIGHT The Standard
KAWARTHA LAKES: The Mariposa Lightning are closing in on back-to-back Under-18 (Midget), Ontario Minor Hockey Association (OMHA) championships after taking a three-points-to-one lead on Delhi over the weekend.
Opening the series in front of a near-capacity crowd in Little Britain on Saturday afternoon, the Lightning stormed out of the gates, with Logan Jenkins scoring just 26 seconds into the action, assisted by Sean Mulvenna and Nick Patterson. However, the lead would be very short-lived, as the Rockets scored just 14 seconds later to tie the game 1 to 1.
Space to operate was at a premium in the cozy confines of Little Britain Arena, with Mariposa’s Matt Mulvenna and Tanner Bricknell both delivering crushing hits to set a physical tone to the afternoon’s action.
The play continued at a frenzied pace in the second period, with the Lightning controlling the play for large stretches of the middle stanza. However, heading into the third period, Delhi was clinging to a 3 to 1 lead.
Throughout their run to the Finals, the Lightning had been building a reputation as cardiac kids, and they lived up to the billing in the final 15 minutes, dominating puck possession and relentlessly attacking the Delhi defence.
A powerplay goal by Patterson just over three minutes into the third, assisted by Nate Rogers and Ryan Marquis brought the Lightning to within a goal. As the clock clicked towards zero, the Lightning ramped up the pressure at both ends of the ice.
Finally, with an extra attacker on the ice and the Mariposa net empty, Patterson found Jenkins fighting through traffic in front of the net for the tying goal, sending shock waves through the crowd, drawing the home fans out of their seats in celebration.
The overtime period settled nothing, as Delhi withstood another onslaught from the Lightning, and both teams settled for a 3 to 3 draw.
The following afternoon, the series shifted westward to Delhi, just outside of London, for Game 2.
The Lightning shrugged off the effects of the clocks shifting forward for Daylight Saving Time to score a 4 to 3 win and take the lead in the series.
The series resumes on Wednesday night in Delhi (after The Standard’s press deadline) for Game 3. Depending on the result of that matchup, the Lightning could be in a position to clinch their second straight championship when the series returns to Little Britain on Wednesday, March 25th, at 8 p.m., for Game 4.