Firebirds playoff run comes to an end

  • Sports   Thu, May 5th, 2022   Gord Mills

By Gord Mills
It wasn’t in the cards for the New Hamburg Firebirds to head to yet another game seven. An incredible season came to an end after a Sunday afternoon overtime loss to the Grimsby Peach Kings.
Once again, the fans were treated to some great back and forth hockey. Just a few minutes into the game, New Hamburg’s Cole Stannix opened the scoring with an assist to Riley Benko. After two quick Grimsby goals, Owen Fischer netted a goal assisted by Zach Mark to end the first tied at 2.
Eric Vander Eyk scored the only goal of the second period to give the Birds a 3-2 lead. Thirty seconds into the third period, Grimsby tied up the game. Both teams had third period chances to seal the win but were turned away by goalkeepers Griffin Murphy and Riley Eberhardt, sending the game into overtime. At the 9:04 mark of the overtime period, Blake Venneri completed the hat trick and the game-winner to take the series four games to two, and ending the season for the Firebirds.
But what a season it was! The Firebirds finished in fourth place during regular season play, then stormed into the playoffs and defeated Norwich in five games, then eliminated first place Woodstock in seven games, and finally won in Game 6 over second place Tavistock to capture the Doherty division title.
The Grimsby series featured lots of great hockey, with both teams being very evenly matched. The Firebirds became known as “the boys who never gave up” and as “the comeback kids.” Heading into the Grimsby series, the boys had played 19 hard-fought playoff games in 40 days. The ice baths for sore bodies became more and more common. Sacrifices of school work, vacations, jobs and families were made all through the playoffs. The Firebirds were on the radar of all of the teams in the province. The Birds have made us proud and have completed an amazing season.
As of press time, the loss is just a few hours old. I can’t help but think of the many, many folks who have contributed to our season. During the next week, I will compile the long list of thank yous that need to be said and will be printed next week, but for now, I will say thank you to all of you and well done boys!