Sports High School Sports

Barrie North takes on Nantyr Shores in season opener

By Stephen Sweet, Special to Postmedia Network

Cameron Cox of the Nantyr Shores Tritons boys hockey team blasts his way up centre ice during high-school hockey action on Thursday against the Barrie North Vikings. The Tritons took the game, 3-1. MARK WANZEL/PHOTO

Cameron Cox of the Nantyr Shores Tritons boys hockey team blasts his way up centre ice during high-school hockey action on Thursday against the Barrie North Vikings. The Tritons took the game, 3-1. MARK WANZEL/PHOTO

There's been a decent amount of turnover for the Nantyr Shores Tritons this year.

That doesn't mean they've lost any confidence in their ability to win.

The boys hockey team fell behind early, but took care of business from then on out, defeating the Barrie North Vikings, 3-1, in their season opener.

“It was great,” said Tritons forward Broderick Black. “We just wanted to play our systems and really pull through to start things off on a high note.”

The Tritons are counting on a number of new guys this season for their success.

“We're a lot younger, smaller and faster,” said Tritons veteran Liam Willoughby. “We've got a better defensive core and we rely on them a little bit and don't have to run two lines for the whole game, so that allows us to roll the lines and keep our legs fresh.”

The first period was a bit of a feeling out process, as neither team mounted much of an offensive threat.

Barrie North's Colton Speer went inside-out on a Tritons defenceman and put a shot on goal that was stopped by Nantyr Shores netminder Connor Towns.

But the rebound sat on the doorstep for Garnet Graham, and he buried it to give the Vikings a 1-0 lead after the first period.

Heading into the second, Nantyr Shores was looking to ramp things up.

“Our intensity, for sure,” Willoughby said. “We sped up the game a little bit, made sure we were making our passes crisp, and made sure we were playing as a team.”

That started to pay dividends almost immediately, as Brian Escott blew around a Vikings blueliner to create a quality scoring chance.

While Nantyr Shores wouldn't convert that opportunity, it did get on the board later in the second on a power play.

Braydon Nickle pulled the puck back with him into the slot, drawing a defender towards him.

That opened up Cameron Cox at the side of the goal, and Nickle set up his fellow Triton to blast one in from the short side.

“It's (all about) chances,” Black said. “More possession, more chances, seeing the ice better, and a goal can come at any time.”

Things were still even headed into the third period, but less than two minutes in, Willoughby grabbed his team the lead.

Nickle was denied on his initial scoring attempt, but the rebound sat in front for Willoughby, who knocked it home to make it 2-1 Tritons.

“I saw the puck loose in front of the goalie and just kept hacking at it until it went in,” Willoughby said. “I didn't even know it was in at first, but it was a good feeling when it went in.”

With 13 minutes left in the third, the Tritons chose to keep driving forward instead of focusing exclusively on defence with just a one-goal lead.

“We just kept pushing them to their limits and made sure we were playing our game plan, and not letting them get into anything,” Willoughby said.

The Vikings thought they'd tied the game with just over six minutes to go, but the play was called dead before Barrie North's Abe Holmes shoved in a rebound.

With just over 90 seconds to go, the Vikings pulled the goalie, but Cole Harrison would ice things with an empty-netter for Nantyr Shores.

The Tritons, who are in action again next Wednesday, have gotten off to a strong start with their youthful core.

“It's just young guys trying to show the coach what they can do this year and for next year,” Black said. “It's a big growth this year, and next year, we'll be even stronger.”

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