Sailors drop home opener

 Inexperience shows in young Sailors     


   Port Stanley drops their PJHL home opener, 7-2, to Lucan, a night after losing

   to the defending champs from Exeter


  Saturday, September 14, 2019


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By Rob J. Ross 

PORT STANLEY, ON. - There may be many lessons to be taught by Port Stanley Sailors' head coach Dale Howard.

His inexperienced team will keep the bench boss and GM busy with his note book and whiteboard.

The Sailors dropped their first two games of the Provincial Junior Hockey League Yeck Division regular season, including their home opener, 7-2, to the Lucan Irish, tonight at the Port Stanley Arena. A day earlier on Friday, the 13th, at Exeter, the host Hawks made like Jason, slashing the Sailors up, 13-0.

"We have a very, very young team. It is mostly a 17-year old team. We'll have some growing pains. We're basically an expansion team. Only three kids started with us here last year," said Howard. "This is the first weekend. We'll keep plugging away. This year is about teaching, teaching and more teaching."

Defencemen Lane Westgate and Garrett Wells and forward Nikolas Caetano, come into the season as the team's veterans. Forwards Liam Hepburn, Ty Freeman and Noah Crowley, played a handful of games last season.


Trailing 5-0 into the third period against Lucan, the Lakers broke the goose egg on the scoreboard that stretched over five periods, with rookies Ethan Bradley and Josh Vanbesian both scoring their first junior goals.

"We're squeezing out sticks too tight. They feel better and there's a starting point for everything. Getting confidence is half the battle," Howard said. "The second period we played the way we're suppose to play. We only gave up one goal. We know we can do it. We know how we're supposed to play. We just have to commit to it full time."

Sinking the Sailors in both games was the rash of penalties, 11 infractions against Lucan, after 10 at Exeter. The Sailors started both games with a warm violation.

"That's got to stop," stressed Howard. "That was our conversation (post game). We've had five 10-minute misconduct penalties. We can't keep our defence pairing together. With the penalties, you're constantly killing therefore certain guys are getting tired. We can't keep killing like this, it'll cost us."

Both Lucan and Port Stanley came up empty on the power play. Special teams and face-off responsibilities will be the focus in upcoming practices says Howard.

"In preseason, we played phenomenal hockey, even though couple of them were overtime losses. We just need to play that right way," Howard said. "I want us to play perfectly in our own end. I won't ever get perfect but I'll shoot for it constantly. I want us to go the net. We have to go to the net better. I don't think we have a pure 20 or 30 goal scorer, so it's got to be by committee."

Owen VanHooydonk, with a hat trick, Eric Taylor, Mark Cassidy, David Gysbers and Lake Taylor, scored for the Irish.

"In Exeter, we basically watched. We were kind of intimated because we are young. They were a final four team last year (Schmalz Cup). That was a tough game," said Howard. "We got out muscled a lot. Exeter has some big, strong boys."

The Lakers visit Mt. Brydges Sunday, completing a three games in three nights stretch to open their schedule.