“We don’t like getting outworked.”
Those were the words of an exasperated Malvern Black Knights coach, Brian Spanton, after a two-all draw with North Toronto Jan. 12.
Heading into the game the east-end school was sporting a 5-0 record and tied for top spot with the Humberside Huskies in South Region Tier 1 boys hockey.
The Black Knights however failed to out muscle a 1-2-1 Norsemen roster coached by former Toronto Maple Leaf Brit Selby.
The problem with the team, Spanton said, was a lack of focus on the present.
“I think, with no disrespect to North Toronto, our guys were looking ahead to the big game against Humberside next week,” he said.
“We were undefeated and obviously we didn’t come prepared to work and we paid the price.”
Spanton attributed the lead in his charges skates to an intense two-day tournament in Peterborough where they played five games, losing in the semi-finals.
“I thought there might be a big letdown with this game sandwiched between the Peterborough tournament and the Humberside game,” he said.
Selby though was pleased his Norsemen could take advantage.
“It was a great game for us. Our defence and forwards played well together — good chemistry,” he said. “Jake Danson, our goalie, played exceptionally well and we had a bit of luck.”
With under four minutes left in the first period North Toronto’s Jesse Erdos-Rush flipped the puck in front of the net and it managed to wiggle its way under Black Knights’ goalie Kevin Holmes.
It remained 1-0 until Malvern’s Harris Bundy tied the game at sticks with a shot from the point. Matt Price assisted.
Malvern went ahead at the 14:13 mark of the third with a goal by Andres Kopstals via Andrew Hood.
The one-goal lead was all for naught as Alex Pesner notched one for North Toronto, tying the game at deuces.
Even though Malvern made a fiery return in the second and third Spanton was critical of his troupe.
“What tends to happen is when we play catch-up sometimes we get away from our game plan,” he said. “We’re just trying to play a simple game.
“We play quite well with the lead but when we play catch-up we seem to play pond hockey and that’s when you can get exposed even more.”
When asked if the tie will hurt Malvern’s playoff hopes, Spanton was reticent.
Instead he focused on the next game against the Huskies on Jan. 21.
“We kind of circled that Humberside game on the calendar some time ago, and it was building up to that,” he said. “Our veterans and core players are too good for an effort like today.”