TORONTO - With the league's top two goaltenders in position at either end of the rink, this one promised to be a low scoring affair. No surprise, then, that is exactly the way it turned out as the Wheatfield Souldiers edged the Beau's Beer Hack 2-1 in the final match of the 2016/17 UUHA Regular Season for both teams.
Contrary to those expectations, though, the goal light was lit early in the 1st period, as Hack veteran Louis Derand - left unmolested in front of Souldiers goaltender Sheldon Shurland - one-timed a behind-the-net feed from speedster Chris Cacciotti to put the reigning UUHA Champions on the scoreboard with just over a minute played. The Souldiers managed to shake it off and tighten things up defensively, though, nearly evening the shot count by the end of the opening frame. (Wade Ivan also assisted on the play.) Then, with just over four minutes remaining in the 2nd, Wheatfield defenceman Derek Domingos found Mike Harkness streaking toward the Hack net where he just managed to get the puck past goalie Aaron Brophy, drawing things even at 1 apiece.
A rare errant Hack pass early in the 3rd saw Domingos spring on the interception, followed by Souldiers captain Chuck Molgat as the trailer. Bursting over the Beau's Beer blueline, Domingos faded left, drawing a defender with him while Molgat, going to the net with stick firmly on ice, tracked the hard pass through the opening seam to tap the puck just inside the right goalpost and into the back of the net for the go-ahead tally. That one proved to be the game winner as the Souldiers evened the season series with the Hack, locking up 2nd place in the final regular season standings in the process.
The Souldiers will now face the Parkdale Porcupines in the opening round of the 2017 UUHA Playoffs, while the Hack are slated to renew postseason rivalries with the Parkdale Hockey Lads. Those two teams went all the way to the Final last season, with the Hack claiming victory in overtime. The 2017 UUHA Playoffs get under this coming Saturday, Feb. 25 at Upper Canada College.