By Kenton Wolfe | March 22 2018
This isn’t the first time this has happened.
Falcons faithful will remember the game – it was Game 4 of the Second Round in the 2016 GOJHL Golden Horseshoe Conference.
The Falcons lead the Ancaster Avalanche 2-1 through the first three games of the series. Game 4 was to take place in Ancaster.
Stop us if this sounds familiar.
“The marathon game in Ancaster was a night I’ll never forget. I remember feeling like we were totally in control for that entire game,” said Wes Wolfe, former Head Coach of the St. Catharines Falcons.
Wolfe has since moved to become the Assistant Coach of the 2017 OHL Robertson Cup Champion Erie Otters, but remembers the game like it was yesterday.
“Guys were exhausted – we had sent our bus driver out to buy fruit and granola bars, Gatorade – anything he could get his hands on to help our guys stay fueled,” said Wolfe, leaning back in his office chair.
A look of nostalgia washes over him.
Wednesday night, the Falcons fell to the Avalanche 3-2 at the Morgan Firestone Arena in Ancaster in a game that required almost six 20 minute periods to play.
Ancaster’s win ties the Second Round series 2-2 in the 2018 GOJHL Golden Horseshoe Playoffs.
Defenseman Tanner Main and forward Michael Davies each added tallies for the Falcon in regulation, while Ancaster skaters Adam Meijer and Benjamin Woodhouse scored for the Avalanche through the first 60 minutes.
St. Catharines was unsuccessful on the power-play, getting shutout on eight extra-man opportunities. Ancaster scored twice on the power-play, including the eventual game-winner by Liam Van Loon with just 9 seconds remaining in the third overtime period.
Both goaltenders played outstanding in the 119 minute, 51 second marathon matchup. Owen Savory stopped 66 of 69 shots against, while rookie goalie Ryan Dugas turned away 57 of 59 against.
The Falcons were forced to play without a number of key players due to injury and suspension, including former-Avalanche Zach Lawrence.
“We ended up out-shooting Ancaster 87-54 but they capitalized on a broken play,” said Wolfe. “And just like that, the series was tied coming back to St. Catharines.”
Who was it who ended the longest game in GOJHL history?
Then-rookie Avalanche Lawrence.
Despite the heartbreak loss, the 2015-16 St. Catharines Falcons didn’t let their loss affect them.
“It could have been a defining moment for our team but I remember we just continued to reinforce that you never allow your highs to get too high and your lows to get too low,” said Wolfe. “We were able to bounce back quickly because of some great leadership on that team.”
“We had the guys get together at the rink the next day and instead of focusing on what happened, we kept it light and prepared for the next game as though it was just another game – that’s really all you can do.”
If the current day Falcons can learn anything Wednesday night’s loss, it’s to follow in their predecessor’s footsteps.
“It ended up being a pivotal moment – we realized that even though we didn’t win, we were the better team and that if we continued to play the way we wanted to, we’d get rewarded in the end,” said Wolfe. “That’s exactly what happened. We took Game 5 at home and were able to close things out in Game 6 in Ancaster.”
St. Catharines is back in action on Friday when they look to restore their series lead at their home ice Jack Gatecliff Arena at 7pm.