Dorchester splits weekend games during a season that injuries have contributed
to the team being mid pack in the standings
December 4, 2022
By Rob J. Ross
DORCHESTER, Ont. - A tale of two games.
In game one, the Dorchester Dolphins played what was described as, one of their best of the season, but an undisciplined penalty late in the third period, cost a victory.
Twenty-four hours later, the Dolphins had far from their A game, but pulled out a win, their 10th of the season, to stay above the .500 mark.
The Dolphins split a pair of home games this weekend, losing to the North Middlesex Stars, 4-3, Friday, before doubling up on the Aylmer Spitfires, 4-2, Saturday, in the Provincial Junior Hockey League.
Similar to what has been a challenge all season, that being injuries, the Dolphins were without three veteran top players, captain Dylan Vandersleen, forward Jakob Marche and goalie Jackson Mailloux.
"Tonight wasn't our best effort. We'll take the win, because we need one," Dolphins' GM and head coach Mark Steele said Saturday. "We're a little injured and a little tired from last night's game. We got the win. We emptied the tank last night and didn't have our legs tonight. We didn't play very well."
Nicholas Shearer and Dylan Bradburn put the Dolphins up 2-0, in the first period, on Warm and Wooly Toss night.
The Spitfires got on the board with Noah Sabourin's first of the season, before Josh Short restored a Dolphins' two goal lead. Landon Den made it 3-2 mid third period, but Austin Connors found the yawning cage with two minutes to go. Defenceman Jordan Daer picked up three assists.
Dorchester takes a two games to one lead, in the season series against Aylmer.
Dorchester continues to hover around 500, sitting fifth in the Yeck Division, with a 10-9-1-1 record, for 22 points.
"We're trying to build consistency, but with all of the injuries, in and out of the lineup, we have to change lines and get familiar again, so it takes time," Steele said. "We haven't had our full team on the ice in a long time. It's the biggest challenge right now. Our record doesn't reflect what our team is."
Dorchester was less than four minutes away from a win Friday, against North Middlesex, before being handed a double minor, that the Stars used to their advantage, scoring twice.
"(North Middlesex player's) stick was up and our guy got cross check in the head and then our guy went after him and got four minutes. Then they scored back to back. A tough one to swallow," Steele said. "Our kid felt bad. He apologized to everyone after the game. I get what he was doing, trying to help a teammate, but you got to know time and place. Four minutes and 30 seconds to go."
Paterson MacNair, with his team leading 11th goal of the season, Josh Short and Eugene Spanier, had the Dolphins leading 3-2 late in the third period.
Ian Lutowicz, Brayden Heessels, Ethan Tichenoff and Vasili Davakos, with the winner, scored for the Stars.
"We played one of our best games of the season. We did everything we wanted to do," said Steele, adding despite the late penalty. "We should have won. We had four break-aways and missed all four and hit two posts."
Dolphins' goalie Connor Nelles, the lone masked man available with Mailloux injured, made 36 saves against the Stars and 32 more versus the Spits. The 'Phins' AP goalies were with their Dorchester midget team, winning a tournament at Fort Erie.
At the mid point of the season, Steele is looking for an upward swing.
"We're looking for a strong December. We want to have more wins than losses," said Steele. "This month is doing our systems on a consistent basis. We haven't lost confidence. We just get frustrated on how things have gone."
Several Dolphins, in the absence injured teammates, have taken on additional responsibilities and earned more ice time.
"Guys are playing in different roles that they wouldn't if the other guys were here. We'll know who can play with who, as we progress through the season," Steele said.
"Jarrett Humpries has been playing in different roles and he's been great. Shearsey has been great. He's taken on a bigger role and he's been putting the puck in to the net."
Shearer shares the team lead in goals with MacNair, at 11.
MacNair leads the Dolpins with 26 points. Daer has six goals and 12 assists and Humphries, five goals and six assists.
The Dolphins own the second best power play in the entire league, at 77.8 per cent. The penalty kill is at the opposite end of the stat sheet, third last, successful only 36.8 per cent of the time.
Thamesford leads the Yeck Division with 35 points, owners of a 17-4-1-0 record, four points ahead of North Middlesex (14-3-1-2). Mt. Brydges (12-4-2-1) is third, followed by Exeter (11-4-2-2).
More images on Instagram - hometownplay