By Jonathan Riley
The Keith’s finally ended a seven-game losing streak last night, with a 4-3 win over the Fundy Phantoms. “I hope that’s got the monkey off our backs,” said Keith’s coach Jim Verran.
The win was the Keith’s first since Dec. 1 and their first at home since Nov. 25.
Keith’s right-winger Jordan Murphy surprised the Phantoms and everyone in the Digby arena when he put the home team on the scoreboard only 12 seconds in.
Keith’s captain Mike Dauphinee (who took the face-off) and Devon Bezanson assisted on the goal.
The Phantoms’ James Chisholm took the puck the length of the rink to tie it up midway through the first and the score stayed tied at one all the way through the second.
Both teams came out charging in the third and the Valley fans were treated to the first end-to-end, hard-hitting hockey they’d seen in months.
It was a big check from little Murphy that freed up the puck for Tyson Harnish early in the third – Harnish sent Dauphinee in alone for the Keith’s second.
Fundy’s Ryan Arbing answered with a solo effort, undressing Keith’s defender Tristan Tobin before wrapping it around and behind Keith’s goalie Steve Morse to tie it up 2-2.
Dauphinee put the good guys ahead again with five minutes left, Tristan Tardiff-Woolgar assisting.
With 1:25 to go and fresh out from under their fifth penalty of the period, the Phantoms evened the score 3-3. Kody Wood assisted Josh Hill.
What is more exciting than a tie game with a minute to go?
Both teams were crashing the boards and firing at will. With 50 seconds to go Bezanson was battling for the puck along the boards when it squirted out to Harnish, who forwarded it Dauphinee who knocked it on to Tyler Robertson, who scored the game winner. “That felt great,” said Robertson. “I haven’t had a point in three games and I used to be averaging a point a game. It’s good to get started again.”
He says the Keith’s have juggled their lines a bit lately and that has made it hard to gel. “No one’s connecting and we haven’t had any flow. But it’s coming. We just got to keep working.”
After the game, Keith’s GM Steve Clayton awarded Robertson the coveted green hat, the game MVP award.
Robertson says he is looking forward to next week’s game against first place Clare. “When we play good teams, we raise our game up and play to the top of our game. That’s a lot more fun.”
He says the key to winning next Saturday is simple. “Hard work. If we play with more grit and more heart, we can beat those guys.”
The Keith’s are away the next few weeks but not very far. They play in Clare on Saturday, Jan. 12 at 8 p.m. and Friday, Jan. 18 at 9:30 p.m.
The Keith’s next home game is Saturday, Feb. 2 against the Eastern Shore.
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Keith’s goalie Steve Morse is backed into the net as Ryan Arbing’s shot rises high into the net. John DeMings photo
Ryan Arbing yells in triumph after tying the Keith’s at 2-2. John DeMings photo
The puck bounces off the pad of goalie Steve Morse as Dave MacDonald of the Phantoms has his shot blocked. John DeMings photo
The corner of the net is crowded by Keith’s goalie Steve Morse, defenseman Tristan Tobin (number 23), Jim Forest of the Phantoms, and Keith’s defenseman Tyson Harnish. John DeMings photo
Dave MacDonald of the Phantoms has his shot blocked. John DeMings photoFundy goalie Ken Terris tries to corral a loose puck with the Keith’s Devon Bezanson looking for an opportunity. John DeMings photo
As Tyler Robertson rushes the net, Fundy goalie Ken Terris focuses on the puck. John DeMings photo
Keith’s defenseman Tristan Tobin is closely pursued around the corner. John DeMings photo
Keith’s defenseman Tyson Harnish dives to break up a two-man rush. John DeMings photo
Defenseman Tyson Harnish tries to clear the crease of Fundy forward Derek Hebert, as goalie Steve Morse strains to keep an eye on the puck. John DeMings photo
By Jonathan Riley