By John DeCoste
It was one step forward, one step back for the Kings Mutual Bantam Wildcats on the Dec. 15-16 weekend.
Kings Mutual defeated the Truro Bearcats 6-1 on Dec. 15, then dropped a 4-2 decision to the first-place ACCEL Hawks Dec. 16. Both games were played at the Kings Mutual Century Centre in Berwick.
The results allowed the Wildcats to maintain their sixth-place standing in the 12-team Nova Scotia Major Bantam League with a record of 8-7-5 for 21 points, two ahead of Newbridge Senators and three behind fifth-place Mobil 1 Barons.
Kings Mutual also inched closer to breaking even in terms of goal differential on the season. Through Dec. 16, the Wildcats had scored 66 goals and allowed 68.
On Dec. 15, Kings Mutual took a 3-0 lead after one period and added three more goals in the second before Truro scored the only goal of the third period to spoil Paul Janes’s shutout bid.
Cody Burghardt, Cole Rafuse and Dylan Taylor had first-period goals for the Wildcats. Drake Batherson added a natural hat trick by scoring three straight times in the second, the first two of which were shorthanded markers.
Batherson added an assist for a four-point night, while Taylor earned two assists for three points in all for the Wildcats, who outshot Truro 23-19.
The following day, ACCEL Hawks took a 2-0 lead after one period on a power play goal by Michael O’Leary and an even-strength marker from Gaetan Tremblay.
Dylan Riley got Kings Mutual on the board early in the second, but O’Leary and then Morgan Barron struck for the Hawks for a 4-1 lead. Burghardt got one of those goals back, but that was as close as the Wildcats would get on this occasion.
This time, Kings Mutual had the edge in shots on goal, 25-15.
Through 20 games, Gregor MacLeod led the Wildcats in scoring with 28 points on seven goals and 21 assists. Batherson was close behind with 27 points, including a team-high 15 goals, while Cole Rafuse was third overall at 14-9-23, including a team-high three power play goals.