Submitted by Gideon Hill
The Mission City Outlaws defeated the Ridge Meadows Flames 3-1 on Saturday night at the MLC. It was an intense affair with Jackson Waniek returning from suspension and making his presence felt. He scored a pair of two goals, narrowly missed the hat trick on a penalty shot and added a seismic hit for good measure.
Waniek probably would have claimed first star were it not for a mammoth performance by Mission goalie Matthew Trulsen, who had 35 saves on 36 shots.
These two teams came into this game with just five points separating them in the standings. Ridge Meadows holds the advantage for now, with the fourth place finisher taking on an Aldergrove Kodiaks team that need one more win to clinch first overall in the league.
The first period was fast and furious, with Mission killing off a pair of early penalties by holding their position very well. Both teams traded chances, including a post from Ridge Meadows leading scorer and Captain Andrew Strelezki. It came off a nice tip through the legs of the Outlaws goaltender Trulsen.
Mission would take the lead just before the 1st intermission, as Waniek scored off a beautiful play from Michal Holub.
Justin Bowerman, who celebrated his 20th birthday earlier in the week, played the puck to Holub who swiftly beat both defenders. In fact, it looked like Holub would score another highlight reel snipe like he did last week against Surrey. This time instead, he played provider to Waniek, who one timed it top corner off the crossbar and in.
It’s unselfish plays like this that Mission needs to continue doing if they are to climb up the conference standings. Great goal-tending will also help, which tonight was provided by Trulsen as he stopped all 18 shots sent his way.
Fast forward to the second period, Mission put themselves behind the 8 ball again with another couple bad penalties and it cost them as they conceded a power play goal. The Flames Paul Georgeopolous took a pass and fired it on net, with his brother Nick tapping it in after a scramble in front.
That was the lone blemish on Trulsen’s incredible night and erased a bid for a second straight shut out at home. No more goals in the period, but not it for excitement, as there was plenty of rough stuff between the two that boiled into the third period.
Special teams was a theme on this night and you guessed it, and Mission took the lead in a tight third with Waniek tapping in a pass from Ryan Sharma. That gave Mission a crucial, and I mean crucial 2-1 lead.
They came close to doubling their lead minutes later as Waniek was taken down on a breakaway. He almost converted on Ridge’s goalie Paul Tusek, but the Flames keeper caught him cheating to his right and stopped him.
Haydn Downing and Halen Cordoni got into a fight with 9 minutes left in the game, throwing hay-makers, which got the Outlaws and the MLC faithful fired up.
Eight minutes after Waniek’s go-ahead marker, Nathan McCarnan sniped one from the slot after a great pass from Kyle Dosanjh, who contributed his 3rd point in 2 games.
Waniek was gunning for the empty net with Tucek on the bench for an extra attacker and just with a minute left, but his attempt at the hat trick resulted in an icing call.
Mission end up winning 3-1 behind a stellar goaltending performance from Ridge Meadows own Matt Trulsen. Fifth straight win at home for Mission,and points in their past five games.
After the game, Waniek says hard work was the key to success.
“I don’t think we seen that kind of effort from us in a while. We had everyone back (from injuries and suspensions) and we could hear the bench supporting us everytime on the ice. I think everyone felt good out there. It was good to score two, wish I could have had the third but he made a pretty good save, so I’ll give him that.”
McCarnan said the Outlaws knew how big this game was and how they needed to play to get the win.
“We think of them as rivals, so any time we play Ridge you know it will be a good, hard fought game. Getting the two points was really big for us. The coaches always want us to work a little harder and after the trade deadline, and the guys we have here, working hard is going to be the best way to earn two points each night.”
MIchael Sande earned third star for his solid defensive play and a few thundering hits. He says playing physical suits him and the team just fine.
“Playing the body seems to get the guys going…amp up our energy and intensity. It’s doing the little things like finishing your check that helped us through the game and get a big win.”
Matt Trulsen continued his strong play of late. He says after a few speed bumps early in the year, he feels the defense and himself are playing with a lot more confidence.
“We are starting to talk more as a unit. We’ve shook off the earlier mishaps and now guys are doing a terrific job. They are clearing guys out from in front, I’m able to see the shot, and it really helps my game. They’ve been great! ”
Trulsen, a Maple Ridge minor hockey product, talked about how special this win was personally to him.
“I know all the boys on that team, and to win against a team from my home town felt pretty good.”
Coach Brad Veitch said a good start was key to the win.
“Right away, right off the hop we controlled the game in their zone. We battled hard.”
He also talked about the play of his young and ever-improving defensive corps.
“They were really strong tonight, in particular Nik Sourtzis, who was off with an injury earlier, he hadn’t played in a while but slid right in and made an impact. Michael Nemeth is playing with such confidence right now and gave us huge minutes again.”
Veitch also talked about the play of a few other players that stood out.
“Kyle Dosanj was a real spark-plug for his unit, all of them I thought played fantastic. He’s a 200 foot guy, a guy we can put out for a big face-off, go in hard on the fore check and skate back to help on the back check. Nathan McCarnan also was really good. He always seems to score a big goal when we need it.”
The Outlaws travel to Burnaby tomorrow to face the Shaw leading Grandview Steelers.