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Dolphins eight games remaining

 Dolphins dive in to stretch drive


   Over the final eight regular season games coaches are stressing discipline

   discipline, capitalizing on chances, more discipline     


  January 30, 2023


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By Rob J. Ross

DORCHESTER, Ont. - Stuck in the middle.

That may describe the Dorchester Dolphins' position in the Provincial Junior Hockey League Yeck Division standings.

With eight games remaining in the regular season, the Dorchester Dolphins sit in fifth place, trailing the fourth place Exeter Hawks, by 10 points.

The Dolphins picked up three of a possible four points over the weekend at home, doubling up on the Lucan Irish, 6-3, Friday, before falling to the Mt. Brydges Bulldogs, 4-3, in overtime, on Saturday.

"I don't know if we'll catch anybody," said Dolphins GM and head coach Mark Steele.

Dorchester won four of seven games during the month of January, losing twice in overtime. It's the first winning month for the team, since September when the Dolphins went 3-1.

Heading into February, the Dolphins, with overall record of15-13-3-1, are five points ahead of both Lucan and the Port Stanley Sailors.

"We're going in the right direction," said Steele. "We've turned a corner and the room has got a little bit tighter. It's just that we got to stay out of the penalty box."

Penalties, whether deserved or not, have hurt the Dolphins, adding a heavier load on the penalty killers, who have come through, successful 90 per cent of the time this month.

"Penalties have been our problem of late. We're not getting any calls and we're not helping our selves," Steele said. "Our penalty kill has been doing awesome, but we're taking untimely penalties that are costing us leads in games as of late. That's the team. We have to find ways to play within the rules."

Dorchester led Mt. Brydges, 3-2, in the second half of the third period, before a skirmish resulted in a five-on-three power play for the Bulldogs. The visitors took advantage tying the game. How the Bulldogs were on such an advantage was a head scratcher for the Dolphins.

Both Dylan Bradburn, four minutes and Brayden Smith, five minutes, received head contact, while the only Bulldogs' player penalized was Ben Landers, a minor for cross checking.

The Dolphins believe a call was missed by the referees.

"Awful. They said they never saw the guy hit our guy from behind," Steele said . "Bradburn hits the guy. The guy turns and falls into the boards, so (Bradburn) gets four minutes for head contact. Then (Bradburn) gets railed from behind and no penalty on that call. Then (Smith) comes in to protect him, because he got hit from behind and they gave him a five minute major for head contact."

Austin Connors, Josh Short and Jordan Daer, scored for the Dolphins.

"First period we played really well," Steele said. "Second period we didn't play so well and the third we were just battling. We got that lead and tried to hang on. Then the penalties happened."

Short with two goals, Nicholas Shearer, Paterson MacNair, Austin Connors and Nick Andrews scored in the January 27th home win against Lucan.

Discipline, penalties deserved or not, will be the utmost importance as the Dolphins head towards playoffs.

"Discipline is number one. We're emphasizing that very strongly right now," Steele stressed. "There are guys who are not playing when they take penalties. They get sat down. It's the team mindset that we have to get accomplished and they all have to do it. You have to be composed, disciplined, because come playoff time, those could be the ones that end your season."

The regular season ends March 5, with a home game against Petrolia.

Paterson MacNair leads the Dolphins with 21 assists and 37 points. Short and Nicholas Shearer both have a team high 19 goals. Daer leads the defence with 28 points.

Captain Dylan Vandersleen is back in the line-up, but the team awaits the debut of Nash Glover, out all season with an injury.

The Dolphins added forward Tage Gallant, while forward Brayden Smith and defenceman Caleb Haalstra return to Dorchester.

The soon to be 19-year old Gallant from London, has three goals and three assists in six games with the Dolphins. Gallant started the season with the Strathroy Rockets of the Greater Ontario Junior Hockey League. Both Smith and Haalstra played for the Dolphins last season. The 20-year old Haalstra who hails from Belmont, started this season with the Grimsby Peach Kings.

Forwards Lucas Geske and Eugene Spanier were released, while defenceman Tyler Taplay was traded to Aylmer.

North Middlesex (22-4-2-2) leads the division, two points up on Mt Brydges (21-5-3-1), three ahead of Thamesford (20-7-4-1) and four on Exeter (20-8-2-2).




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