The new incarnation of the hometown Brantford Blast played a home game on Friday Nov. 29 hosting Dundas.
Without getting too deep into the politics of the new team, it was strange for fans of the Blast from years past to see– and not because it was the team’s first home game in more than a month. The Blast only resemble the team from yesteryear. They may wear the same jerseys and play in the same rink with the same announcer (Norm “the Fist” Tolhurst) but fans of the last team may struggle to find their favourite players.
A simple look at the rosters reveal just as many former Blast players on Dundas as the new Blast (four). Of course, the old team ran by Peter Ham seized existence last year and players were therefore dispersed across the league.
Brantford’s Blast as currently constituted are actually the team from Stoney Creek last season. But a well-rounded group they are. According to PointStreak, in the past four years Stoney Creek has amassed four ACH Championships plus one Allan Cup while posting a 69-20-7 regular-season record with a dazzling 32-4 post in the playoffs.
Action on Friday began fast and furious! As fans were still filing in, it was already 1-0 Blast. Cam Fergus, a local product originally from the city, whom graduated from Paris District High School, netted the goal for the Blast. Rob Hisey and Nikola Bibic drew assists.
And as these fans were getting to their seats, Igor Gongalsky made it 2-0 Blast!
One goal was avenged by Dundas fairly quickly. Former Blast product, Dustin Alcock, drove one home assisted by Simon Mangos and Guy Polillo. Brantford folk may recognize another connection there and wonder… and yes, Guy is the son of former Brantford Smoke great, Paul Polillo. So it would seem that if Brantford fans have a second favourite team, it could be the Dundas Real McCoys for the connections alone. But truthfully, with all of Brantford’s former team dispersed, connections are easy to make between all teams.
The first period closed 2-2. A high-scoring period reminiscent of the old Blast squad.
Towards the end of the second period, it was another former Blast player– as well as current one– Jason Pitton, scoring to even things up at four.
After a four goal first and second period, the game tightened up in the third. There was no scoring. That meant the game could not be decided in regulation, therefore earning the tiebreaker session from some three-on-three overtime!
Teams traded chances but it looked like there would be a shootout to decide the winner. Not until the final four seconds was the game decided. It was Dundas icing the game. Mackenzie Wood capped it off with the game-winner off the rush on a last push from Phil Brewer. Final score: Dundas 5, Brantford 4.
In conclusion, the game was a more polished product than the last season here, based on positioning alone as it felt like every game of the Blast previous season had the propensity to end up 9-8. This was not due to poor goaltending in the least as goalie Brett Leggat would stand on his head. However, it was chances galore resembling a pond hockey game with little to no mind seemingly paid to defense. This reckless style meant for real exciting hockey… but a much less sustainable product, leaving the coaching staff pulling out their hair.
The new squad appeared more focused on fundamentals and paying attention to the defensive end first before worrying about the offense.
It was hard to see former Blast property, such as Alcock and former Blast captain, Charlie Stephens, dawning Dundas Real McCoys red instead of Brantford white. But fans should know these players (and others on different organizations) are not traitors. It was not their choice that Bantford folded last year and they were good enough to make the team they were dispersed to.
The next Blast home game will not be until the 20th of December, which is a Friday, at the customary 7:30PM start time. Brantford will welcome Whitby just before the Christmas break.