BY CHRIS UHLIG
Last time, we reported on the dramatic 4-3 overtime win during the January 28th Sunday home game against the Hawkesbury Hawks. The Bears then elevated the excitement further with a 1-0 shootout victory on February 1st against the Colts in Cornwall. This raised the question: could the level of excitement and suspense possibly be surpassed? The resounding answer: YES, it could, and indeed it did, at the Friday home game the following day against the Pembroke Lumber Kings.
This game epitomized the spirit of the Smiths Falls Winter Carnival, where the first 250 people dressed in Bears attire received free admission. Door prizes and gift baskets were up for grabs, along with the opportunity for fans to meet their favorite players afterward for autographs in a meet & greet session. A remarkable 720 ecstatic fans answered the call, igniting the stadium with their enthusiasm. Both teams took to the ice with fiery determination, showing no intention of conceding an inch to their opponents.
Jackson Heron gave the Bears an early lead at 2:06, assisted by Davis Hails and Tyson Parker. This marked the only score of the first period, although the Bears exerted extra effort during the second half to rectify some unfortunate blunders, such as a “too many men” penalty.
Jackson Heron once again extended the Bears’ lead with another goal at 4:41 into the second period during a power play advantage. Trevor Faucher and Matthew Dimaline were credited with the assists. Following that, Jack Paquette, supported by Lucas Culhane and Matthew Dimaline, increased the team’s lead to a comfortable 3-0 at the 9:49 mark. One might have thought this would secure the win, but the Lumber Kings had other plans. Cam Hicklin scored for them at 13:10, narrowing the gap. Sutton Murray further chipped away at the Bears’ lead with a power play goal for Pembroke a minute later at 14:33. However, Owen Watson, set up by Matthew Dimaline and Travis Quellette, widened the gap once again for Smiths Falls, sending the puck past the Lumber Kings’ goalie Jacob Morgan at 18:56.
Cam Hicklin proved his worth as a King by scoring his second goal of the game late in the third period at 15:49. With just four minutes remaining, could the Bears hold on to their diminished advantage of just a single goal over the Kings? The shocker came just three seconds before the end of the regular play. Eric Barnard levelled the score at the 19:57 mark, and the stadium froze for a moment. The game once again turned into a thriller.
Overtime failed to resolve the stalemate, and a shootout was required to break the deadlock. Despite Pembroke’s efforts to score against Nikolas Trakakis, they had no luck. In contrast, Travis Quellette proved to have a luckier hand for the Bears, securing their victory.
The Bears clinched a hard-fought 5-4 win over the Lumber Kings.
Jackson Heron earned the First Star for his two goals, while Cam Hicklin claimed the Second Star for his two goals and one assist. Matthew Dimaline collected the Third Star for his three assists.
Maintaining their dominance, the Bears continued to solidify their top spot in the Robinson Division with 55 points from 41 games played, still holding the third spot overall.