The game was intense, with a goal being scored within the first 45 seconds, and it never let up from there as Unionville (1-0) came away with a 6-5 victory.
“It was a lot more (intense) than it should have been,” said Unionville head coach Bill Hammond. “Early on in the season, you’re going to make mistakes that are going to lead to the other team scoring goals. Against a team like Henderson, who has a bunch of snipers, it’s going to cost you.”
It seemed as though every time Unionville would build a two-goal lead, Henderson (0-1) was right there to chip in a goal.
But the Indians kept battling back, especially with the help of the power play, which accounted for half of Unionville’s goals on the night, and senior forward Matt Kowash, who had a hat trick on the night.
“We haven’t even practiced the it yet and the power play worked out well,” Hammond said. “We have a lot of skilled players on this team. Our top two lines … just know what to do and where to be and they don’t wait for the shots. They just shoot quickly and don’t give the other team a chance to setup. They did a good job of moving it. It was nice to see that.”
Unionville did all of its scoring in the first two periods and on its sixth goal with 1:50 left in the second, chased Henderson starting goaltender Connor Carroll from the net.
In relief, however, senior Tyler Bonjo put on a clinic after coming in cold with three huge saves in the dying seconds of the middle frame.
With Bonjo now backstopping the Warriors, the team in front of him tried its best to rally back from a 6-4 deficit.
The pressure was rising against Unionville, along with the tensions, and Hammond made sure to keep his players calm on the bench.
“I just told them to do the basic things right,” Hammond said. “Play good positioning body-wise, don’t let them beat you to the inside of the zone, make sure you follow the gameplan and dump the puck deep. They can’t hurt you when the puck is in their zone.
“Just little simple things to keep reminding the kids to follow the gameplan. Follow what works and don’t try to do too much. We got tired at the end of the game and it hurt us a little bit.”
With the power play in their favor, the Warriors pulled to within one off a goal from junior forward Jarrett Slear and threw shot after shot at junior goaltender Michael Hansen.
“Toward the end, it was getting a little chippy and they almost got that last goal,” said junior forward Danny Hargadon. “But we kept our wheels and kept our feet moving and got the win.”
It may not have been pretty way to get the ‘W,’ but Hammond and his team will take it, especially over a tough opponent such as Henderson.
“We played well,” Hammond said. “We have as good of snipers as anyone else in the league. We’re going to get our goals, too, but we just need to not give up as many as we did tonight. It’s a start. That’s exactly what it is. There are a lot more games to go in a long season.”