AON Flames goalie Jon Heaton might not possess the experience many other netminders in the league have, but he knows how to get the job done.
“I love hockey so much and I started in my 30s,” said Heaton. “So this is my fourth year in this league and when I started I had only been playing hockey a few months. So it’s kind of a thrill.”
After suffering a 4-0 loss Wednesday, forcing an extra game, the AON Flames bounced back for a 3-2 overtime win against Yukon Inn to take the Whitehorse Oldtimers Hockey League title Thursday at the Canada Games Centre.
“Our goaltending was outstanding,” said Flames’ Tony Clennett. “John kept us in there.
“He came a long way this year, worked hard and concentrated. He took us through the playoff and we’re glad he was our goalie.”
He made the big save when it counted the most; the game reached overtime after his glove save on a shot from Inn’s Dennis Connelly in the final second of regulation time.
With 2:29 left in overtime, Flames’ Blayne Monaghan scored his second of the game for the win, assisted by Wade Harrison. Also scoring for the Flames was Eric von Flotow, with Jeff Hunston getting second assist of the game. Flames’ Rick Moses and Laurie Malo also had assists.
Heaton undoubtedly had the admiration of his teammates, but when asked whom he felt was his team’s MVP, he couldn’t decide.
“I don’t think I could name anyone,” said Heaton. “For a goalie like me who’s sloppy and slow, I have to say my defence. They were just awesome. Those guys saved so many bad rebounds that I put out – they made a huge difference.”
Down 2-0 by the end of the first period, Yukon Inn decided to not let the Flames get away with the title so easily, tying the game on goals from Grant Lyons and Paul Sahagian, with assists from Darnell Kiriak and Connelly.
“They knew after last night’s game that they had to pick it up a lot more,” said Inn’s Blaine “Bubba” Demchuk. “They came out hungrier and they won a few more individual battles at the start.
“(During intermission) I said, ‘2-0 lead is the worst lead to have in hockey because you’re either defending it or you’re going forward, but usually most teams will defend it.’”
“We got a little tired and a little unorganized, and we started scrambling,” said Heaton of the second period. “And they were really hustling; they were beating us to pucks in our own end. That was a big thing.”
Both teams advanced to the finals of the double elimination draw with 2-1 wins over Medicine Chest – needing two losses to be eliminated – in the semifinals. Scoring for the Flames against Medicine Chest in their match-up were Steve Arnell and Clennett while in the other semifinal Lyons and Sahagian scored for Yukon Inn.
“(In the playoffs) there was six overtimes or something like that – it was amazing this year,” said Demchuk. “There’s good parity in the league and that’s why we have it set up this way. It’s the best league in town and the best league I’ve ever been a part of as far as parity and camaraderie. The guys already came in and asked where we’re going tonight.”
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