By JEFF BOMBEN
The Condors were sent home after losing 2-1 to the visiting Panthers during Conestoga’s Extramural Hockey Tournament on Feb. 3.
Conestoga went into the semifinal game on a high after beating Canadore in a thrilling five-round shootout, 6-5. Shortly after, they blew out Mohawk College by the score of 8-3.
The scoring was led by returning players, Spencer Charlesworth and Brandon Christopher, who added five points in the game versus Mohawk College.
During a penalty-filled first period in the semifinal, as the Condors were killing a 5 on 3, the Panthers scored with a quick wrist shot over the shoulder of goalie, RJ Croteau.
Trailing 1-0 with 3:07 to go in the second and final period, Conestoga’s Justin Kuehl blew by a defender and scored the tying goal, short-handed.
“It was a beauty, Kuehl did a great job in our own end, getting the puck out then had a phenomenal shot to tie the game up,” said head coach Kevin Denomme.
Minutes later, Kuehl had another great chance short-handed as he broke in all alone with just the goalie to beat but this time he couldn’t pull the trigger.
The Condors looked like a team on a mission as they carried the play for most of the second period. Conestoga was on the powerplay with less than two minutes to go but couldn’t beat Canadore’s hot goalie, Nick Daybutch.
With only 36 seconds left in the game, the Panthers scored the winning goal to send the home team packing.
This was the third straight tournament that Conestoga lost in the final moments of the semifinal including last weekend in London.
Denomme said the loss was hard to take but there were many positives that can be taken from the tournament.
“The boys battled hard, they played really disciplined. I think we had a lot of guys step up and do a great job,” he said.
He described the play of Condors’ captain Aaron Armstrong as phenomenal and called him the best player on the ice from any team.
Armstrong, a returning player from last year’s championship squad, talked about the team’s reaction to the loss. “It was a tough one but you can’t get down on each other. You have to just keep pushing another game ahead.
“We ran into a hot goalie, the boys were really pushing it out there but it’s a tough loss,” Armstrong said.
He is confident that the team is going to be able to shake off the performance and now thinks they will be a lot more motivated to win moving forward.
Their head coach agrees. “We have come back in every single game that we have played and the one thing the guys know is that they are never out of a game,” Denomme said.