What could have been a magical, though improbable run by the Peterborough Jr. A Lakers probably came to an end on Monday night as they went down 12-11 to the Brampton Excelsiors at the Peterborough Memorial Centre.
With just 12 seconds to go and down by just one, some sleight-of-hand by the Lakers Riley Morgan gave the home team a needed face-off win for the last possession of the game. Jake Fox picked up the rebound from Kyle Killen’s shot on the Excelsiors crease and faked out goaltender J.J. Jensen but he couldn’t trick the buzzer – the ball hit the back of the net just a half-a-second too late to count.
While the Lakers (4-12-1) have not mathematically been eliminated from the playoffs, they will need to win their remaining three road games and hope some competition currently ahead of them falls off.
The Lakers started the season missing some players (and are still missing standout Ethan Walker to injury) and taking some time to gel and put themselves down a rabbit hole with a 1-11 record.
On June 19 they tied the Orangeville Northmen 6-6, kickstarting a four-game unbeaten streak of which they won the next three.
They looked to continue that streak against the second-place Brampton Excelsiors, and nearly did.
Brampton led by one or two goals until the 7:35 mark of the third period when Taite Cattoni tied the game 8-8 with an outside shot. It put the Lakers in a good position heading into the last 10 minutes but some defensive breakdowns allowed the Excelsiors to pop in three quick goals in under a minute including a pair from Tyson Gibson 25 seconds apart.
Lakers’ captain Jake Fox got one back on a great individual effort at 15:21, but every time the Lakers looked to have some momentum, the Excels stole it back. Gibson scored a power play goal at 17:35 with the Lakers’ Kyle Killen in the box for delay-of-game as he had tried to block an earlier scoring chance. Brampton led 12-9.
Fans in the stands figured that was it, that the magic seen in the juniors over the past two weeks had been used up, but those fans were mistaken.
With goaltender Drew Hutchison pulled, Fox put the team on his back, scoring a goal at 19:33 and assisting on Killen’s tally at 19:48. Fox would have been credited with the tying marker had it counted, and probably would have scored the game winner in overtime, too – that’s the kind of season the captain has had.
For a little while at least, the magic was back in the Mem Centre. The Lakers took the loss hard, none more so than Fox, who, if the Lakers don’t make the playoffs, has played his last home game as a junior (although he’ll be called up to the senior team when needed, having already scored nine goals and six assists in five games of call-up duty).
The 285 fans in attendance broke into spontaneous applause for their juniors, who all turned and raised their sticks in salute to the crowd.
Fox’s four goals and two assists led the Lakers. Killen had a hat trick and one assist. Garrett Eddy, Carter O’Connell, Jordan Trottier and Cattoni also scored.
Gibson led the Excelsiors with a sock-trick. Jeff Teat had a goal and eight assists. Adam Wiedemann scored twice and added an assist. Austin Hasen scored once and added three assists. JJ Jensen took the win in net.
The Lakers are right back in action on Tuesday night facing the Whitby Warriors at Iroquois Park Sports Centre.