PHOTO BY KENNY PEPLINSKIE
Tina Peplinski – Pembroke Observer
The Pembroke Lumber Kings met their match Sunday night, losing at home for just the third time this season, this time 3-2 in overtime against the Renfrew Wolves.
This marked the first official meeting between the new Ottawa Valley hockey rivals following last year’s developmental scrimmage series between the two teams. There was an excitement in the Pembroke Memorial Centre as fans made the short drive from Renfrew to cheer on the Wolves. They erupted when Charlie Johnson ripped a one-timer into the top corner past Reece Proulx nearly halfway through the extra period.
Although the Kings fought back to tie the game, Renfrew dominated much of the action early with the hard-hitting physical presence and out working Pembroke in the first two periods. The key to Renfrew’s victory was getting the pucks down low and behind the Pembroke defence, according to Wolves’ head coach and GM Ryan Leonard.
“I think that’s how we won the game today; the board battles we won them and to out outshoot them 42-23 is huge and good momentum for us moving forward,” he said after the game.
He is looking forward to the rivalry and feels it is good for hockey in both communities.
“We have two great teams in the Valley, probably two of the best teams in the league right here within half an hour of each other so it’s nice to see,” Leonard added. “We had a good fan following tonight so it’s a win/win for both communities and the whole area.”
The Wolves feature three local players – Cobden’s Tyson Tomasini and John Enright and Renfrew’s Brendan Hill. Killaloe’s Sam Klawitter is also in the organization but has spent the season playing with the Valley Timberwolves in Eganville. Tomasini opened the scoring three minutes into the game and he also assisted on the game winner. Enright assisted on the Wolves second goal, which Elvis Slack scored on a shot from the corner which banked in off of Proulx.
The Kings finally got on the board with 8:27 to go in the second when Carter Vollett scored on the tip-in on the power play. Brady Egan and Raph Seguin assisted.
Pembroke had chances to tie it late in the second and early in the third but Will Craig came up with some big saves in the Renfrew net, including on a couple of good scoring chances from Jesse Kirkby. He would not be denied a third time, however, as he finally beat Craig with a nifty move with seven minutes to go in the third period. Egan and Jacob Zwirecki assisted on the tying goal.
Sunday’s game was Pembroke’s third in four nights following shootout and overtime wins in Cornwall and Ottawa respectively. Kings’ head coach and GM Alex Armstrong was disappointed with the loss and the overall effort in the first 40 minutes, but with take the point and move on.
“We didn’t deserve to go into overtime,” the coach admitted after the game. “We were down and battled back. They played hard and it was a big game for them. Right now we are still leading division. We are banged up and tired but we are not going to use that as an excuse. I thought for us we were down 2-0 and could have packed it in but we didn’t.”
The Kings will have a day off Monday before preparing for a home-and-home series against Brockville this weekend.
“At the end of the day we have to move forward, it doesn’t matter who we play we just have to worry about ourselves. It’s not who we play it’s how we play,” Armstrong said. “Losing is not acceptable here and we need to find ways to win.”
Pembroke travels to Brockville Dec. 3 to take on the Braves at 7:30 p.m. and the Braves are in town Dec. 5 for a 7 p.m. start as Pembroke hosts Rogers Hometown Hockey Dec. 4-6.
Three Star Selection: The three stars were Renfrew’s Charlie Johnson and Tyson Tomasini first and third respectively and Pembroke’s Jesse Kirkby was the game’s second star. The fourth star for hard work was Pembroke’s Reece Proulx.