Norwich Merchants in tight standings battle
With only two months remaining in the regular season, now is crunch time for the Norwich Merchants to push up the standings. They kicked off a busy three-games-in-four-nights stretch on Thursday, Nov. 30 against the defending Ontario Champions from Ayr.
It was a rough start for Norwich as they quickly fell behind 3-0 in just over 10 minutes time. Blake Pow would answer back with his 22nd goal of the season with 7:51 left, but gave up one more 2:40 later to trail by three after 20 minutes. The second period was just as rough with Norwich allowing four goals including a last second tally that put Norwich behind by a touchdown after 40 minutes.
The Merchants didn't quit though as Matt Caskanette buried a shot 7:28 into the final frame. They could have cut the lead to five when Peter Cappucci was hauled down on a breakaway, but the awarded penalty shot was unsuccessful. The lead was cut to five when Simon Storoschuk slipped in his ninth goal of the season, but Norwich could muster no more, falling 8-3 to the home squad.
Newcomer Dan Gallagher notched two assists with Damon Lemmon, Alex Sutherland, Storoschuk and Troy Lamoure recording one apiece while Tyler Gubesch made 11 saves to take the loss with Brandon McIntosh stopping 16 in relief.
Norwich looked to bounce back Friday night, Dec. 1 in front of their home fans of which almost 450 packed the Nor-Del Arena for Teddy Bear/Winter Clothing Toss night. The teddy bears flew rather quickly when Storoschuk poked in the opening goal 7:20 into the game. Woodstock equalized 1:25 later, but Norwich amped up the pressure, scoring three times in a 3:30 courtesy of Troy Lamoure, Pow and Harlen Vanywynsberghe. Vets defenseman Jack Dorey notched two second period goals setting up a tense third period. The teams traded chances, but both goaltenders stood tall in the final period, as Norwich sent the fans home happy winning 4-3.
Gallagher (3), Riley Monture, Pow, Troy Lamoure and Simon Storoschuk recorded assists while Gubesch made 22 saves including a last minute thriller to earn the victory.
On Sunday afternoon, Dec. 3, the Merchants visited Wellesley Apple Jacks. The Merchants fell behind early, letting in the opening goal 3:56 into the game. The team quickly responded with Storoschuk and Gallagher scoring in a 25-second span to take the lead. The Jacks answered back prior to the first period buzzer. Scoring calmed down in the second. Wellesley scored mid-way through the period, but Storoschuk scored late as the teams headed to the dressing room knotted at trips after 40 minutes. The third period was exciting for the fans with end-to-end action, but both goaltenders standing strong, allowing nothing forcing overtime. The extra frame was exciting with both teams coming exceedingly close to earning the extra point, but after seven minutes of three-on-three, the game ended in a tie.
Norwich faces another tough weekend coming up. They host Paris on Friday at 8 p.m. The team will be honouring the 1998-99 – 2007-08 alumni at this game. Saturday they visit the Tavistock Braves for a 2:30 p.m. matinee.
The Norwich Merchants will be hosting the PJHL Doherty Division All-Star & Prospects games on Saturday, Jan. 6, 2018. The All-Star game starts at 4:30 p.m. with the prospects going at 7:30 p.m. Tickets are only $10/person. The Merchants are also accepting sponsorships for the event for $250. Anyone interested is asked to see a Merchant executive member for a package or call 519-532-6704 for further information.