3 Thoughts from Waterloo at Kitchener (January 20, 2016)

Despite the fact that they bordering towns and their home rinks are separated by just 20 minutes, Waterloo and Kitchener don’t play each nearly enough considering the calibre of games they have played this season.

In the previous two outings that I have taken in live, both teams played very competitively against each other especially in the semi-final of the Gold Puck tournament. In their last meeting of the regular season, you had Waterloo still technically fighting for top spot in the league and Kitchener running a six game winning streak and coming off a win at the Peterborough Tournament of Champions.

It was a physical game from the beginning even with Kitchener missing the suspended Zach Edwards. The battle between captains Luke Bignell and Chris Playfair was also one that escalated throughout the game.

Here are a few other things that stood out from the game in which Waterloo ended Kitchener’s win streak with a 5-2 victory.

Alex Metzger silences some critics with solid game in goal

When you speak about the top goalies in the Alliance, the conversation always begins with Nathan Torchia. Not only is he tops in the Alliance, but also probably top five among eligible goalies for the OHL Priority Draft. Take a look at the goalie statistics and you will see Alex Metzger near the top in many categories.

Despite the statistics and how he has played throughout the season, many have dismissed his success this season because they had said “he plays the easy games”. Well, his start against Kitchener was the polar opposite of an “easy start” as Kitchener is as good as they come right now in the Alliance.

Metzger was good throughout the game. He was able to handle a lot of the shots that Kitchener has become known for right around the circle and from the point. I thought for some of those shots he gave off some large rebounds, which could be costly in the future but overall it was a great night for the netminder.

Kitchener coaches show confidence in Justin McCombs

It was clear from the beginning of the game, with Kitchener holding on to last change, that they were determined to match up 2001 born Justin McCombs against the Alliance Scout #5 rated prospect Alex Gritz. Gritz has been a hard one for most teams to defend as his speed isn’t easily matched.

Through the first two period, when Kitchener matched up McCombs against Gritz, the Wolves scorer wasn’t able to get a whole lot going on. McCombs still pursued things offensively, but it was clear his main objective on the ice was to not give Gritz any space to accelerate.

For McCombs, this was a huge piece of confidence that Dean DeSilva entrusted the under age player with. DeSilva has already entrusted McCombs this year as Justin is one of Kitchener’s better players on the penalty kill. With McCombs set to return next season with a year of Minor Midget experience under his belt, I’m sure he will be one of, if not the go to player looking ahead to next season.

Spencer Kersten continues to impress

The Wolves are completely stacked with talent. It is hard for some to stand out with the likes of Gritz, Hoelscher, Playfair, De Jong and McBay on the ice a majority of the time. Despite that, Spencer Kersten has stood out as a player who I can now confidently put in the discussion with the other players as a top prospect coming out of the Wolves system.

The first thing you will notice with Kersten is the speed. Allow him to gain speed against a single defender going backwards and good luck because he will be gone untouched. With that speed, he is able to create scoring chances on his own and his quick snap shot has given him the most success in the games I have encountered.

My opinion of Kersten has grown throughout the year and he will be a key player that could determine how far Waterloo goes this season and if they can claim a 3rd straight Alliance championship.

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