Alliston vs Penetang

Hornets, Kings GMOHL finals start tonight, mayors make side bet

Posted March 7, 2014

Up until 2008 when the Alliston Hornets won their first league championship since 1984, the Penetang Kings always seemed to be the insurmountable obstacle that killed any forward progression through the OHA playoffs.

Before the various Jr. C leagues merged in 1995 to create the Georgian Mid Ontario Hockey League (GMOHL) the Hornets only beat the Kings once during the cross-over rounds of the provincial title chase, and that was in 1978 in the OHA quarterfinals. Penetang would win subsequent series' in 1979, 1982, and 1984.

Following the merger that put both teams in the same league, the Kings won back to back titles in 2006 and 2007, including the OHA championships. The Hornets snapped that streak in 2008, against the Kings, and again in 2009 and 2010. In fact, Alliston is on a six year title run, looking to make it seven, when play opens tonight in Penetang in the best of seven series. Game 2 is Sunday night at the NTRC.

Clay Birkett, whose been on the team management side of each of the championship years, is the head coach now, stepping in after Ed Garinger was relieved of his duties on January 9.

"If you would have told me two months ago when I took over we would be in the league finals I would have been thrilled with that," said Birkett this morning in an email to Free Press Online. "Now that we are here I nor the team is content at just being here but focused to win another league title. Penetang is a very good hockey team and we respect that. We are on a roll as well having swept a good Fergus team and solid Stayner one. We have 22 out of 23 players healthy and we are well rested."

The Kings come into the finals after sweeping Midland in the first round, and knocked Schomberg off in six games.

Kings head coach Dale Gignac, making his first finals appearance behind the bench, told Free Press Online that his squad is a "very determined group of young men who believe in one another."

"They set many team goals at the start of the season and were willing to put in all the hard work it takes to accomplish all our goals," said Gignac. "We felt we had a very strong group of returning players in all positions that have grown together over the past couple of seasons. ... I believe the team that is able to stick to playing their game will have the edge."

The Hornets come into the finals with the number one powerplay, 29 per cent, and penalty kill, 87 per cent, while Penetang's special teams are 24 per cent on the PP and 82 per cent on the PK.

And each side is turning to their veteran goaltenders to start including Tyler Brindle, 4-0 with a 3.48 GAA for Alliston, and Adam Redgate, 8-2, and 3.05 GAA.

"Our game plan is simple, we need to show up and out-work them every shift," added Birkett. "I have rolled four lines since the beginning and plan on continuing to do so. Our discipline has been very good, special teams have been excellent. I will draw on the experience of our older guys and veterans to pave the way for our rookies. This is going to be a very good series and look forward to being a part of it."

Off the ice, New Tecumseth mayor Mike MacEachern, and Penetanguishene Mayor Gerry Marshall have made a bet that will include the losing town to fly the other's flag at their respective Town Hall, and have to wear the winning team's jersey at a council meeting.

The GMOHL champion will move on to the OHA round and play the winner of the Western Hockey League, whose finals involve Wingham against Walkerton, tied at a game each, with Game 3 tonight.

Best of Seven
Championship round schedule

(1) Penetang v (2) Alliston

1. ALL @ PEN Mar 7, 8:00 pm
2. PEN @ ALL Mar 9, 7:00 pm
3. PEN @ ALL Mar 11, 7:30 pm
4. ALL @ PEN Mar 12, 8:00 pm
*5.ALL @ PEN Mar 14, 8:00 pm
*6. PEN @ ALL Mar 16, 7:00 pm
*7. ALL @ PEN Mar 17, 8:00 pm
* if necessary

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