First One Under The Belt
The Markham Royals began their 2016-17 campaign with a win on Saturday after taking a trip down the QEW to Burlington to face the Cougars.
“It’s always good to get a win in your first game especially when you are on the road, playing against a good hockey team, and we had a good night,” said Royals Head Coach Mike Galati after the game, “it feels good that’s for sure”.
The Royals got off to a bit of a slow start with a warm-up violation penalty to start the game, followed by a too-many men bench minor leading to an early Burlington goal and lead in the game. A situation that could go either way for a team playing it’s first game as a complete unit, with some new faces to the league, but the Coach was not worried.
“That stuff happens,” said Galati, “I just said to the guys to just settle down, let’s regain focus. You are on the road, you are not familiar with surroundings, but I think we did an excellent job of refocusing and taking control”.
The refocus and taking control began with their veterans, as just three minutes after giving up the lead, Rylee St. Onge took a beautiful feed in front of the net to tie the game. It was the second year in a row that St. Onge scored the first goal of the season, having scored the first goal for the Royals in their return to the OJHL last September in a game against the Stouffville Spirit.
“I was actually thinking about it before the game”, said the Royals forward, “it would be cool to try and score the first goal two years in a row. I was happy I got it done, and it was a great set up from (John) Hudgin”.
The Royals then exploded for 3 more goals before the end of the first period, with Hudson Michaelis getting his first of the season, St. Onge adding a second goal off a 3-on-1 rush with new line-mates Sam Hu and Artem Suyargulov (getting his first OJHL point). Doug Carter added the fourth goal, scoring his first as a Royal.
The second period was a physical battle from start to finish, with the Cougars getting on the board again early in the frame, but after a couple of penalties called against them, the Royals were able to capitalize on the 5-on-3 with Sam Hu picking up his first goal as a Royal. Corey Iapalucci (his first goal with the Royals) and Laine McKay would add markers in the third frame as the Royals handled the Cougars easily for a 7-3 win. Markham owned the shot counter by a total of 46-32, and went 2 for 6 on the power play.
“It was a good win,” said St. Onge after the game, “we came in with the attitude to win and that’s what we did. The boys are happy and we’re looking forward to the season ahead.”
The Head Coach is looking forward as well, but only to the week ahead.
“We did not have a lot of practice time this week, as much as we would have liked anyway,” said Galati, “but it’s nice to get a win, Monday we’ll be back to work and prepare for our next game on Friday.”
That game on Friday is the Royals Home Opener against their North Division rivals, the Pickering Panthers. Last season, the Royals went 1 - 2 - 2 against the Panthers, who are starting this year on a 10 game road trip as upgrades to the Pickering Rec. Complex are being completed.
“Home openers are always fun,” said Galati with a smile, “we’re going to have a real good week of practice, work on tightening things up that we need to tighten, and hopefully we can put on a good show on Friday.”
About The Markham Royals: The Royals are a member of OJHL Ontario Junior Hockey league and compete in the North Division. Their home games are played in the City of Markham at the Markham Centennial Arena.
For more information on players, schedules, ticket sales and coming events checkout their website Click here - www.markhamroyals.com
Rino is a sportscaster and writer for the Markham Royals.