Brantford Blast remain perfect
Brant News file photo
Brantford Blast forward Chris Rebernik collides with Welland Whalers goaltender Cody Vinnai during an Allan Cup Hockey game at the Brantford and District Civic Centre.
The Brantford Blast pushed into double-digit perfection on Friday night with a 3-1 win over the visiting Welland Whalers.
With the win, the Blast extended their record to 10-0.
Defenceman Brad Jones doesn't recall such a hot start to a season, even when the team won the Allan Cup in 2008.
"The first year I was here we were on a little bit of a roll to start off, but I've never been a part of a 10-0 team," Jones said. "It's a nice feeling."
It's not like the Blast have steamrolled their Allan Cup Hockey league competition either.
Friday night's game was tied 1-1 going into the third period. And Saturday's 11th win of the season for the Blast came in a shootout against the Whitby Dunlops.
Overall, five of the Blast's 11 wins have come by two goals or less.
"Winning close games are about the guys who have character," Jones said. "It makes all the difference. They go out in the third period in a tight game to battle hard and good things happen for us."
On Friday, the Blast started the game quickly, scoring 1:29 into the first period when Jones pinched in from the point with forwards Jamie Williams, Greg Bullock and Mike Ruberto.
Jones passed to Ruberto, who slid the puck to Bullock, who found Williams in front of the net. Williams buried the puck behind Whalers' goaltender and Brantford native Cody Vinnai.
Ben Thomas had a relatively quiet first period in goal for the Blast, facing just six shots despite two Whalers power plays.
In the second period, the Blast gave the Whalers a five-on-three power play when Kyle Spurr was assessed a roughing minor with his brother, Chad Spurr, already in the penalty box for a slash. It took the Whalers only 11 seconds to get the puck to the slick-handed Yvon Charrois, who floated it into the net over Thomas' blocker.
Chris Rebernik gave the Whalers another brief five-on-three a minute and a half later, but the Blast managed to kill off both penalties and go into the third period with the game tied.
Welland's Kris Lavoie got a tripping penalty 6:45 into the frame and it only took the Blast 15 seconds to win the face off and get the puck to defenceman Dave Russell on the point.
Russell's shot from the centre of the blue line stayed on the ice and slid into the corner of the net to make it 2-1. Chad Spurr and Ryan Healy collected assists on the goal.
The Whalers were pressing for the equalizer for much of the remainder of the game, but Cam Sault put away the insurance goal for Brantford with 3:11 left to play.
Thomas stopped 20 shots in the victory to move to 2-0 on the season. While goaltenders Anthony Marshall (4-0) and Brett Leggat (5-0) have more wins for the Blast, Thomas now leads the trio in goals-against average and save percentage.
"It's good to have as many (goalies) as we can," Jones said jokingly. "But, seriously, all three of them are great guys and they all accept their role each game and just want to see the team win.
"That's what is special about this team this year. We are not cliquey and we are not anything special. We are all just coming together and supporting each other."
The team was without leading offensive defenceman and head coach Mike Burgoyne on Friday as he served a one-game suspension for a fight in the previous game. Burgoyne, who leads all defencemen in Allan Cup Hockey with 17 points this season, was named the league's player of the month for November. He had 13 points in six games.
On Saturday, the Blast extended their record to 11-0 with a gutsy shootout victory in Whitby. Brantford fought back from deficits of 1-0, 2-1 and 4-3 before eventually winning on Chris Rebernik's goal in the shootout.
The Blast will look to move to 12-0 on Friday when the Orillia Tundras visit the Brantford civic centre for a 7:30 p.m. game.