For the first time this season, I was able to take in a full game experience watching the Chatham-Kent Cyclones. Definitely the surprise team this year in the Alliance, the Cyclones have made a name for themselves this season by playing everybody tight and pulling out some big wins, a big change from their season a year ago.
Against Waterloo, they just weren’t able to keep up with the speed and precision of the Wolves, falling 7-1. For Waterloo, they were on point for the entire game, something we have seen time and time again this season.
Mitch Hoelscher Continues Rapid Scoring Pace
There are lots of guys on Waterloo who can put the puck in the net, but none are doing it at the pace of forward Mitch Hoelscher. Hoelscher was a key contributor a year ago when the Major Bantam Wolves took home the Alliance title and that success has transitioned to this season rather seamlessly.
Playing alongside captain Chris Playfair, Hoelscher not only has a dynamic playmaker to help set him up, he also has the experience of playing alongside Playfair in the past, a rare feat for a Wolves team that had a high turnover rate from last season.
One thing I really do like about Hoelscher’s game is his physicality. He isn’t afraid to throw the body in the corner and plays with an edge that sees him involved in many of the scrums after the whistle. That edge he plays with is a key factor why Hoelscher is Waterloo’s leading scorer.
Caleb Pinsonneault Solid in Loss
A losing score of 7-1 normally doesn’t reflect a strong performance in net by the losing goaltender, but the way Pinsonneault played is not accurately reflected by the final score.
It hasn’t been easy for Pinsonneault this season, as he hasn’t been able to secure that first victory of the season, but he’s been playing the cream of the crop in the Alliance. In his five games, he’s played Waterloo twice along with a game against Huron-Perth, Hamilton and Elgin-Middlesex. In his five games, Pinsonneault has faced an average of 42 shots per game, which is ridiculous.
Many of the goals resulted from defensive miscues and some just because the Cyclones were unable to keep up with the speedy Waterloo forwards. Despite the score, many positives can be taken from the Cyclones goaltending.
Forecheck Made the Difference
One of the things that Waterloo has done the best this season is pressure opposing defenses with a constant forecheck. Whether it be Hoelscher, Alex Gritz or Evan Kula, the Wolves always seem to have one man pressuring any defenseman with the puck and it often causes turnovers. Even if it doesn’t result in a scoring chance, it will sometimes cause the opposition into a bit of a panic which leads to dump directly to a Wolves defenseman where they then set up the offense.
I know it is something that I continually point out about Waterloo, but it has been the key to their success in a lot of their games. A speed advantage for them leads to a higher puck possession which leads them to get an overwhelming majority of the shots. When there isn’t a speed advantage, see my post tomorrow about their game against Kitchener, they are in for a tougher test.
Waterloo Wolves 3 Stars:
- Mason McMahon
- Mitch Hoelscher
- Justin Zuber
Chatham-Kent Cyclones 3 Stars:
- Chase Henry
- Caleb Pinsonneault
- Eric Carter