Mitch Wilde once scored 19 goals in a Junior B season, but it was still stunning to see him take a perfect over-the-shoulder breakout pass from goalie Mike Poulin, break away from a pursuing Nic Grasby, throw a hard, hard shot fake low then dunk the ball in over the shoulder of Tye Belanger for the winning goal in last night's 7-6 Kitchener-Waterloo Kodiaks win over the Oakville Rock. Wilde is a big, rugged defender who was playing his third game in Major Series Lacrosse after graduating from the Whitby Warriors Junior A program.
“First shot I had that one breakaway and I shot it right in his pads,” Wilde said. “Poulie pointed out that he likes to dip low and I saw [Jamie] Rooney put it short side so I threw a couple of fakes and put it short side and it ended up going in.” It's all part of the learning process for a young player, Wilde added. “Just watching all the veteran guys, taking notes on what they do and try to implement that into my game day by day, game by game, shift by shift.”
Just what he's up against was made clear for Wilde last week when KW played the league-leading Brooklin Redmen. “The speed's a lot different and the guys are a lot bigger, but it's fun. It's exciting. You get to play with respected players in the league. I mean, Shawn Williams is my gym teacher and I got to play against him last week. It's exciting stuff. I'm just out here playing the game I love.”
Wilde's goal at 17:36 of the third period gave KW just their second lead of a game in which the teams traded goals throughout with Oakville generally striking first. Corey Fowler, playing his first game with KW since coming over in a trade with Six Nations, led the Kodiaks in scoring with 2 goals and 2 assists. Veteran Jamie Rooney had a fairly quiet night until the third period, when he scored a pair of crucial goals, each of which tied the game and the latter of which came just over a minute before Wilde's winnner.
Kyle Aquin, playing his first game with the Rock, looked better and better as the game wore on and wound up with a hat trick. Belanger was excellent in goal for Oakville and the Rock generally did a good job of defusing the potent KW transition game. “Kitchener runs the ball real real hard and that's 90% of what they do is they want to push and keep pushing and pushing,” said Oakville Head Coach Phil Sanderson. “So you have to play a 25-second shot clock against them or they will run the ball right down your throat. We wanted to recognize that and get guys off so we can get our D guys out.”
Sanderson felt his team played a solid game at both ends of the floor; they just need to “minimize the brain farts. We had seven bad shifts tonight and they ended up capitalizing on that and that's usually the difference in this game, is whoever has more bad shifts.”
Oakville's next game is this Saturday at 2 pm when they play host to the Brampton Excelsiors. KW returns to the floor Wednesday night at Brooklin in a game you can watch via live webcast.