It took a good portion of the first period for the Kingston Frontenacs to find their legs, as they kicked off the home portion of the regular season Friday night hosting their division rivals the Oshawa Generals, but when they did, they were able to make good on just enough chances to skate away with the win, taking the game by a score of 4-2.
“We didn’t start on time,” Frontenacs Head Coach, Luca Caputi said. “But you’ve got to credit some of the character in that room for standing up for each other and just finding a way.”
Opening the scoring for the Frontenacs was rookie forward Tyler Hopkins who tallied his first Ontario Hockey League goal in front of the home crowd. Hopkins jumped on a loose puck in front of the crease and shovelled it into the open Oshawa goal.
“You see the net, your eyes get all wide, you get excited and you just hit it.”
Hopkins, who also got time on the penalty kill has impressed his new Head Coach with his play through the first two games of the season.
“I’m not hesitant to put him out there,” Caputi said.
“He’s done a really good job through (training) camp of adapting to our system, the league and I think he’s well on his way to being a big part of what we are as a team moving forward and he has a bright future.”
It may only have been the second game of the year, but playing against their division rivals definitely gave off a playoff vibe for the Frontenacs faithful. The play was often physical and included two fights. Tyler Hopkins wasn’t one of the primary participants in the rough stuff, but he definitely took note of tonight’s style of play.
“These guys came out hard, we’re going to see them a lot,” Hopkins said of his newfound rivals. “It shows the energy of the game. It’s fun to be in but you’ve got to make sure you have your teammate’s back like our teammates showed today.”
Mason Vaccari played a stellar game in goal for Kingston, turning away 30 of 32 shots against the generals, for which Caputi had nothing but praise.
“He’s been excellent since the day he got here and he just continues to evolve,” Caputi said of Vaccari. “He’s a pillar back there for us so we’re really fortunate to have him.”
“In certain situations, we could do a lot better out of there in front of him, but when we don’t he’s there to help us out.”
The Frontenacs could easily have found the net several more times throughout the night but weren’t able to capitalize on sustained pressure gained throughout the game. After the win, Caputi was able to joke about how they’ll address that area of play.
“We do push-ups in practice when we miss the net, maybe we’ll make it 20 instead of 10,” Caputi said as he chuckled.
The Generals opened the scoring less than two minutes into the game when Ryder McIntyre cut in through the middle of the Frontenacs zone and let go of a wrist shot that found its way past Mason Vaccari.
The Frontenacs produced several chances to score towards the end of the opening period but couldn’t get one by Jacob Oster.
The teams headed into the first intermission with Oshawa holding a 1-goal lead and a 14-11 lead in shots on goal.
The second period was one to remember for Kingston rookie forward Tyler Hopkins as he scored his first OHL goal just under five minutes into the second after a series of saves, Hopkins was able to jam home a loose puck to tie the game.
Momentum would continue to swing in the Fronts favour as they would add a power play goal from defenceman Jacob Holmes at the 16:18 minute mark of the middle frame.
But that lead was short-lived, just over a minute later centreman Dylan Roobroeck stripped the puck off a Frontenac defender in the neutral zone, stepped over the blue line and wired one over Mason Vaccari’s shoulder to tie it up heading into the second intermission.
The game would stay tied until the 17-minute mark of the third. Nathan Poole found the puck in front of the net and waited just long enough to find an opening and beat Jacob Oster to take a 3-2 lead.
Kingston would seal the win with 26 seconds left when Linus Hemstrom found the back of the empty net after the Generals pulled their goalie to take a 4-2 lead.
Oshawa outshot Kingston 32-30.
Nathan Poole was rewarded with the First Star for scoring the game-winner, Mason Vaccari was the Second Star and Tyler Hopkins got the Third.
Kingston and Oshawa don’t have time to dwell on Friday night’s result as the two face each other again Sunday night in Oshawa.