This game had a lot of intensity for the first whistle all the way to the final buzzer. Both Sun County and Cambridge were coming off lopsided loses the previous day with each team allowing six goals. The pace of play only intensified after Steven MacDonald gave the Panthers a 1-0 just 14 seconds into the game.
While close for the first two periods, both teams exploded for a combined eight goals in the third, six of which came from Sun County. 8-2 Panthers would be the final with Sun County being led by Justin Bondy and MacDonald who each tallied four points.
It was the final game for each team before heading to St. Mary’s for the Alliance Faceoff this weekend. Both will be looking for some momentum as the Alliance season continues on.
Successful Positioning by the Panthers
One thing most people would agree about the Sun County Panthers is that they are not a large team. So much so that even a small team like Cambridge looked physically larger than them. So you have to give credit to the Panthers coaching staff for realizing this and using more positioning rather than physical play to create scoring chances.
In the offensive zone, the Panthers used the point very effectively to either get shots on net or to draw a defender up so one of their skilled forwards could cheat towards the circle. On the rush, crisp passes and simple hockey allowed them to enter and maintain control in the offensive zone, a big improvement over their game in Kitchener Saturday.
Sun County even had a handful of chances from just catching the Hawks defenders sleeping. There were three or four times that a Panther forward, more times than not Jake Nimmo, was able to sneak behind the defense and an outlet pass later had a clear breakaway on net.
Neutralize the Scorers
It is no secret that the Cambridge Hawks have struggled to score early on in the season. Having just four goals through their first three games, they’re needing that extra little push to put the puck in the net. On Sunday, Cambridge was going for broke with Rewdy Scott, Kevin Quinn and Grant Ramsay all on one line hoping that would translate to an increase in scoring.
Problem with that game plan was that Sun County loaded up defensively when that line was on the ice, doubling up on either Quinn or Scott when they rushed up the wing. Whenever one of those three rushed up the wing, you could hear a loud, audible scream of “double” coming from the Panthers bench.
While Scott and Ramsay were able to each tally goals, both came on either a Panther giveaway or a breakdown in the defense. When they were doubled on the rush, very little if anything came out of the rush which I’m sure is exactly how the Panthers imagine it.
Hits Before Goals in Third
It’s hard to say that there weren’t many goals in a period when eight are scored, but the third period solidified one of my consistent pet peeves in minor hockey whether it is contact or non-contact play.
After Cambridge made it a 4-2 game in the third with over 16 minutes to play, the momentum was clearly with the Hawks. Following two Panther goals in 14 seconds, the Hawks took a timeout and after that point it seemed like Cambridge was no longer interested in closing the gap rather they preferred to throw the body and see who could throw the biggest hit.
This is a mentality I have seen for years in minor hockey through coaching and just observing and it is one I’m not a fan of. I would much rather see a team come back and lose 8-5 then be content with a six goal loss but have the satisfaction of throwing a few hits. I understand that a big loss can be discouraging for most at this age, but it’s a mentality I wish would leave the game.
Sun County Panthers 3 Stars:
- Steven MacDonald
- Parker Jacques
- Justin Bondy
Cambridge Hawks 3 Stars:
- Rewdy Scott
- Kevin Quinn
- Cooper Page