The Brant County Crushers were content to settle for a tie on Saturday against a much more experienced Kingston Knights team in their second sledge hockey game of the season.
Down 1-0 midway through the first period, the Crushers clawed their way back to even the game early in the third period at the Brant Sports Complex.
“They had us pinned in pretty good at the start,” coach Doug Robb said. “Once we realized the competition that we were in against, we picked it up big time.”
Robb said Kingston is one of the more experienced clubs in the province, with players who have been on the ice together for many years.
Now sporting a 1-0-1 record in the Ontario Sledge Hockey Association’s Intermediate B division, the Crushers are set to welcome the team they played in last season’s Intermediate C division championship.
The Crushers will face the Northumberland Predators on Saturday at 11:30 a.m. at the Brant Sports Complex in a rematch of a Champions Day game last season that saw the Crushers win their first title in a 7-1 blowout.
“It should be an interesting encounter,” Robb said. “It’s always an exciting game when we meet them.”
Both the Predators and Crushers were elevated to the Intermediate B division this season by the OSHA to help raise the level of competition.
It has meant tougher games for the County of Brant team, but players have been up to the challenge so far.
Though the Kingston Knights had a much shorter bench than the Crushers on Saturday, their experience showed early when the team kept most of the first-period action in the Crushers’ zone.
Goaltender Jessie Gregory was forced to make several key saves to keep the game tied for the Crushers.
With just more than five minutes to play in the first period, Kingston’s Mike Wilkinson centred a pass perfectly for Joe Pindur. Gregory was forced to dive across the net to take away the open side, but Pindur lifted the puck over her outstretched blocker to make it 1-0.
The Crushers picked up their game in the second period, but couldn’t get a goal for their efforts until early in the third period, when Dude Martin evened the score at 1-1.
Both teams were pressing for the deciding goal and the Knights nearly got it when Wilkinson fired a bullet at the top of the Crushers’ net with only a minute to play in the game. But Gregory got her blocker up just in time to deflect the puck over the net.