Norwich Merchants win two of three weekend games
It has not been the ideal start for the Norwich Merchants in the early part of the season with the squad only amassing three points in the first six games of the year. They had an opportunity to change that with three games in three nights over the Oct. 14 weekend.
The Wellesley Apple Jacks paid a visit to the Nor-Del Arena on Friday night, Oct. 13 in front of 360 home fans many eager to partake in the team's Meet the Players festivities later that evening.
Alex Sutherland opened the scoring 9:03 into the game to give Norwich the lead after 20 minutes. Riley Monture doubled that lead early in the second with his fourth goal of the season. The Merchants' Achilles Heel during the season thus far had been penalty trouble and this night didn't see those issues rectified as the Jacks got on the board late in the second period while playing with the man advantage.
Blake Pow answered back with a powerplay tally of his own for Norwich with 1:49 remaining in the period.
Things were looking grim for Wellesley in the third period, but they amped up the pressure registering their second powerplay goal of the night with 10:55 remaining. Pow restored the two-goal lead with 5:31 left, but that two-goal lead quickly reverted back to one 1:38 later thanks to the Jacks' third powerplay goal of the game. Wellesley thought they found an equalizer late with less than three minutes left in the game only for it to be disallowed sending some of the Jacks player into a tizzy. When play resumed, the Jacks continued their high tempo offense stunned the Norwich crowd knotting the game at four with 1:31 left.
Overtime looked likely in this game, but with 1:03 left in the game Pow whistled home his third of the game which saw the Nor-Del Arena erupt with excitement. A last minute dash by Wellesley saw them fall short as Norwich won the thriller 5-4. Seth Lamoure (2), Mason Cooper, Matt Larochelle, Zach Jankovic and Simon Storoschuk had the assists for Norwich while Tyler Gubesch made 25 saves to pick up his first win of the season.
The Merchants looked to make it two straight wins on Oct. 14 when they travelled to Delhi to take on the winless Travellers. Things started well for Norwich as Jankovic roofed home a wrist shot for his first of the season 9:14 into the game. Brandon Velda wired home a shot of his own 25 seconds later and buried his second of the game 1:19 into the middle frame to give Norwich a 3-0 lead after 40 minutes. Sawyer Thompson clinched the victory for Norwich when he slipped home his second of the season six minutes into the final period as Norwich held on for the 4-0 shutout victory. Sam Davies, Mason Cooper (3), Damon Lemmon and Brandon Odorjan notched assists for Norwich while Tyler Guebesch stopped a generous 31 shots to earn his first shutout of the season. Norwich went a perfect four-for-four on the penalty kill during this game.
The team looked to make it three-for-three when they returned home to take on the second place Tavistock Braves Oct. 15. Things did not start well for Norwich as the Braves buried two first period goals while the Merchants were unresponsive. A fluky Tavistock goal opened the goal scoring three minutes into the second period that saw a Merchants clearance bounce off their own player and into the back of their own net. John Foreman slipped home his first of the season 3:35 later, but the Braves restored their three-goal lead 1:40 later. Tavistock would add one more before the second period buzzer and clinch the victory with one more goal in the third as Norwich fell 6-1 to the Braves. Monture and Ryan Dayman notched assists on the Foreman goal while Brandon McIntosh stopped 10 shots and Gubesch made 12 saves in the loss.
Norwich will look to climb the standings with another three games in three nights weekend. On Friday they host the Burford Bulldogs at 8 p.m. in a game that will see the 1978/79 through 1987/88 alumni honoured. There will also be a karaoke event following the game. On Saturday, Norwich heads to Woodstock for Round 2 of the Battle of 59 against the Woodstock Navy Vets. Puck drop is set for 7:45 p.m. Norwich will close out the weekend on Sunday night when they visit Burford at 8:30 p.m.
The Merchants have a number of events upcoming as they continue their 50th season celebrations. On Friday, Oct. 27, the team hosts the Ayr Centennials at 8 p.m. Following the game Cody James Wood performs in the Blueline Club. On Friday, Nov. 3, the team honours the 1988/89-1997/98 teams with another alumni night and then on Saturday, Nov. 18, the team holds its fall fish fry with an all you can eat perch and pickerel dinner along with a dance with DJ Brian Grosvold. The event also features a live and silent auction. Tickets are only $30/person and can be purchased from any Merchants executive member.