By John DeCoste
The Summit Hyundai Valley major midget Wildcats wrapped up the pre-Christmas portion of their 2012-2013 schedule on a winning note.
After topping Dartmouth Taylor Flooring 5-1 Dec. 15 on the road, the Wildcats outgunned the South Shore Mustangs 8-3 Dec. 20 on home ice in Berwick.
Valley reached the Christmas break with a record of 27 wins, just two losses in regulation time, one overtime loss and one shootout loss for 56 points in 31 games. The ‘Cats are now a whopping 17 points ahead of second-place Dartmouth.
The Wildcats welcomed leading scorer Nick Blanchard back to the lineup Dec. 20 following a two-game stint with the Quebec Major Junior Hockey League’s Acadia-Bathurst Titan. Blanchard had an immediate impact, scoring three goals including a nifty shorthanded marker.
Brett Tidman had the biggest impact offensively, scoring two goals and adding four assists for a six-point evening. Grant Janes added three assists and Tyler McDowell two for the Wildcats, who led 2-1 after one period and 5-2 after 40 minutes.
Eric Chipman and John Deacon each added a goal and an assist. Robert Patterson had the other Valley marker.
Michael Pettet picked up the win in nets, playing all but the last couple of minutes and stopping 18 of 21 shots. Pettet remained unbeaten on the season at 14-0.
Blanchard’s hat trick improved his league-leading goal total to 35 and his league-best point total to 66 in 30 games. Deacon (16-30-46), Jacob McNutt (19-23-42) and Tidman (18-11-29) were all enjoying solid seasons, with Makail Parker (7-17-24) rounding out the top five in team scoring.
In goal, Justin Ritcey had a 1.55 goals against average, a 0.94 save percentage and a league-best six shutouts. Pettet wasn’t far behind with a 2.05 goals against average, a 0.92 save percentage and one shutout to go along with his undefeated record.
In the Dec. 15 game, the Wildcats got a pair of goals from McNutt and single markers from Makail Parker and defensemen McDowell and Duncan McKie in their 5-1 win. Patterson, Tidman and Michael Dill each added a pair of assists. Ritcey turned aside 34 of 35 shots on goal to pick up the win. The Wildcats had five goals on just 22 shots on Dartmouth goalie Brandon Dorrington.
Valley was originally scheduled to wrap up its pre-Christmas schedule with a Dec. 21 game in Berwick against Dartmouth, but that game was postponed and rescheduled for Jan. 3, which will be the next action for the Wildcats.