Thursday, July 30, 2015

Redmen stay alive in playoff hunt with 6-3 win over Excelsiors

Mike Poulin has been seeing the ball well, and that didn't change Wednesday as he gave up just three goals to lead Brooklin to a 6-3 win over the Brampton Excelsiors, keeping the Redmen's playoff hopes alive. (Photo: Tim Prothero)
The Brooklin Redmen had their backs against the wall Wednesday night and they responded with a solid team effort to pull out a 6-3 win over the Brampton Excelsiors. With the win, Brooklin moves into fourth place, one point ahead of the Oakville Rock.

Brampton is in third with 14 points (7-10), Brooklin has 13 (6-11-1) and Oakville has 12 (6-11). Tonight's Oakville at Brampton game will decide the final playoff standings. If Brampton wins, they will finish third and Brooklin will be fourth. If Oakville wins, they finish third and Brampton is fourth.

Six Nartions (15-3) will finish first. Peterborough (13-4) is locked into second place. The Lakers play KW (4-12-1), who will finish last, tonight in Peterborough.

Shawn Williams scored twice and added 2 assists to lead the Redmen to their must-win victory. Mike Poulin continued to be sensational in net for Brooklin, turning aside 29 shots to earn the win. Junior callup Austin Shanks had 2 goals. Rookie Reilly O'Connor flew in from Washington, D.C., where he is finishing up a language course for his degree from Georgetown, to play in the game and flew back at 6 am Thursday. He added a goal and an assist, as did Kiel Matisz.

Mike Burke had 2 goals and Brady Heseltine 3 assists for the Excelsiors. Tyler Carlson suffered the loss despite giving up just 6 goals on 37 shots, including a near save on the game's final goal when he sprinted from the bench and slid across the crease on his knee pads to get a piece of O'Connor's shot that, unluckily for Carlson, bounced up into the net.

O'Connor had to take a summer course because he switched majors after his sophomore year and had to make up some language requirements. He'll be finishing up next week and hopes he'll need to hurry home. "Hopefully we make the playoffs. We're Brampton's biggest fans," O'Connor said of cheering for the Excelsiors now. "Definitely want to do whatever it takes to play in the playoffs, wherever it is, whoever we're playing, it's just an opportunity to win a Mann Cup. With everyone here, I think we really can beat anyone. It's a great group."

He enjoyed the whole offence he got to play with, but may have been particularly pleased to be reunited with a few of his running mates from their Whitby Warriors days. "It was great to play with [junior callups] Ryan Keenan and Austin Shanks, guys I played junior with my whole life. The chemistry will always be there with those two, I feel. And I love playing with Dan [Lintner]."

The Redmen employed a conservative offensive approach, making sure they got off the floor quickly and dumping the ball in the corner late in the shot clock if no good shots were available. "We definitely tried to play a smart game and deny transition and just work and look for quality of shots rather than just quantity of shots and it worked out for us," said Williams. "The way our defence and Poulin was playing, just leave it up to them and if we get a chance we'll take it and if not, if it's not there let's just be real smart."

Brampton coach Paul Stewart gave credit to Poulin and the Brooklin defence, saying both played great, but he wasn't pleased with the way his own team played. "But we were sloppy, we didn't play our game, we didn't get in the middle. It was hard to watch," Stewart said. "We were off. We can't use the heat as a factor because Memorial's just as hot. There's no real reason for it; it was one of those games where we were just off. I'm glad it's over."

The Excelsiors want to play better Thursday night against Oakville to go into the playoffs on a better note than Wednesday's. "The good news is that we can't play any worse, so that's a positive start," Stewart quipped.