Fort Erie Meteors stand out in the competitive Golden Horseshoe Conference of Niagara’s Junior Hockey League, led by Head Coach Nik Passero, while local rivals vie for top positions midway through the season. Photo credit: Facebook/Fort Erie Meteors
It’s the unofficial halfway point of the season for many hockey teams across Niagara, including the five teams that make up the seven-team Golden Horseshoe Conference of the Greater Ontario Junior Hockey League (GOJHL).
As of Thursday night, the Fort Erie Meteors are the top local junior b team sitting with 23 wins and 46 points, just three back of leaders Caledonia.
The Meteors have also only allowed a conference low 72 goals on the season.
The Passero family has done it right in the border city, building from the ground up and slowly but surely, getting to the top.
“It’s been a great start to our season,” explained head coach and general manager Nik Passero. “This has been so exciting to see because since we took over a few years ago there has been a lot of work put in by our family and our staff to get this program back to where it belongs.
Our community work this season has been second to none, and that drives our program.
We have had great seasons from Liam Beamish and Kyle Adamo who sit near the top of the league in scoring. They have driven the bus for our group, along with captain Rylan Masterson.”
Indeed, Beamish and Adamo are the top local scorers with 39 points apiece in 30 games.
The one question mark for the Mets, as some call them, is between the pipes as starting goaltender Charlie Burns was called up to the OHL’s Niagara IceDogs following the trade of netminder Marcus Vanderberg.
The perennially strong St. Catharines Falcons are just two points back of Fort Erie and, as of Thursday, had won four in a row.
Falcons head coach and general manager Tyler Bielby will add to an already impressive lineup via trades.
Just five points separate the top three teams in the Golden Horseshoe Conference.
“The league is tight at the top, and it’s been a fair battle so far,” Passero added.
The Hamilton Kilty B’s sit firmly in fourth spot at the holiday break with 30 points.
The Port Colborne Sailors, thought to be one of the favorites to start the season, are winless in nine games but still hold down fifth place with 23 points.
Owner/General Manager and Head Coach Scott Barnes is expected to trade a number of his veteran players following the team’s recent slide.
One point shy of the Sailors is the Pelham Panthers who did change owners earlier this season with Wes Gee now in charge.
The seventh place team is the Welland Jr. Canadians who surprised St. Catharines earlier this month with a pair of back to back wins in a home and home series.
The Canadians have allowed a league-worst 139 goals, but a recent coaching change may help the team defensively as former NHLer Chris Gratton and Trevor Lariviere are now behind the bench.
Play continues this weekend, before the league takes a break until January 3 to conclude its 50-game regular season.
For more information on the GOJHL visit https://www.gojhl.ca/
Rod Mawhood is a lifelong Niagara native who has had the pleasure of working in all three mediums – Radio, Print and TV – for over 20 years. His first announcing gig was with the then St. Catharines Stompers. Since then he’s worked in radio and TV in Toronto, and currently is the announcer for the Niagara IceDogs and Niagara River Lions.
Rod also covers the Buffalo Bills for FOX Sports and the Buffalo Sabres for NBC Sports.