The Kitchener-Waterloo Braves have been struggling to find their form all season, so facing a home-and-home against the 8-5 and solid-looking Brampton Excelsiors looked like it might just leave them vulnerable to being caught for the last playoff spot by the surging Toronto Beaches. Instead, the Braves threw another loop into the roller coaster ride that the 2013 OLA Junior A season has been by taking both games, finishing off the sweep Friday night with a 16-11 win.
As usual, star forward Dhane Smith was front and centre, scoring 5 goals and an assist to boost his league-leading total to 94 points through 16 games. The big, fast righty, who had an excellent rookie season with the Buffalo Bandits last winter, is on pace to collect over 60 goals and to score 118 points, topping his 107 total that led the league last summer.
Lefty forward Chris Cloutier continues to excel as a 17-year-old. His hat trick and 3 assists give him 54 points for the season, exactly equalling his total as a rookie. Cloutier has amassed his impressive numbers despite playing recently with a leg injury that has limited his mobility, which is a big part of his game.
Meanwhile the Excelsiors, who looked to be battling for a top-four finish and home floor advantage in the first round of playoffs, now have some work to do just to clinch a playoff spot. And they’ll be moving forward without several players for the next several games. Four of their players were ejected at the 18:33 mark of the third period after receiving fighting majors as well as majors for being the instigator, aggressor or both in the brawl that broke out.
Zach Bell, Patrick Miles, Tyler Roche and Matthew Bennett will all miss significant numbers of games to suspensions under the new CLA fighting rules. With five games left to play, some of them may miss the remainder of the regular season. Brampton sits tied for sixth with Peterborough with 16 points, now just one point ahead of the Braves. Toronto has 10 points, a game they should win this week against St. Catharines and a matchup against the Excelsiors on Monday July 8 that is now looking like it could have major playoff implications. Brampton’s other four remaining games are against Burlington, Barrie, Orangeville and Peterborough, all of which would be challenging even without a depleted roster.
Coquitlam 13, Port Coquitlam 7 (box score)
OLA Jr B
Welland 21, Hamilton 9 (box score)
London 19, Point Edward 6 (box score)
Nepean 13, Kahnawake 9 (box score)
Halton Hills 11, Oakville 7 (box score)
Six Nations 16, Elora 2 (box score)
Clarington 20, Orillia 5 (box score)
Mississauga @ Mimico
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