By Joel Wittnebel/The Oshawa Express
It was a tough weekend in Gens Nation.
Not only did the club lose three straight games, the most recent being a 4-1 decision at home against to the Kingston Frontenacs, dropping them to last place in the Ontario Hockey League’s Eastern Division, but the club may have also lost No. 1 goaltender Kyle Keyser in the process.
Already down 2-0 in the second period on Nov. 5, things took a turn for the worse as Nico Gross was penalized for tripping the Frontenacs’ Brett Neumann as he rushed to the net. Neumann crashed violently into Keyser who, jumping to avoid the sprawling player, landed awkwardly on the ice.
He remained motionless for some time before being helped off the ice. He did not return to the Gens bench.
After the game, coaches Greg Nemisz and Nathan McIvor were unavailable for comment.
However, general manager Roger Hunt says that Keyser is now listed as day-to-day, but will more than likely miss the team’s games this coming weekend.
Backup goaltender Cole Ceci came in after Keyser’s injury, fresh off a start against the Hamilton Bulldogs the night before.
However, Kingston took advantage of the Gross tripping penalty, putting them up 3-0.
It would be the only puck to get by Ceci, who would stop 17 of the 18 shots he faced. Kingston would add an empty net marker to seal the 4-1 victory.
While stepping in mid-game can be a high-pressure situation for any goalie, speaking after the game, Ceci said it’s all about the preparation ahead of time.
“I prepare the same way before every game, whether I’m playing or not,” he says. “So, I find that usually with that good preparation, whether you’ve got to come in late or not, it kind of helps coming in and I knew that we needed to kind of shut the door and try and get back in the game.”
Thinks looked up briefly for Oshawa as Gross was able to get a bit of redemption as he hopped out of the penalty box and was delivered a breakaway pass from Hayden McCool. With a set of slick dekes, Gross was able to break the shutout for Kingston goaltender Jeremy Helvig and add the Generals only goal of the game.
The three losses follow a trio of wins one week ago, and for captain Jack Studnicka, despite the team’s inconsistency, they need to remain on an even keel.
“I don’t think anyone is making excuses,” he said. “We’ve got to stay level-headed, you can’t get too high on the wins and you can’t get too low on the losses. Obviously there’s a lot of regulars out of our lineup, but we thought we put forth quite a good effort.”
Along with the loss of Keyser, the Gens are missing Kyle MacLean, out with a broken finger, and Riley Stillman, suspended for a hit during the loss against Hamilton on Nov. 4.
Looking ahead, Ceci will more than likely be called upon to fill the starting role until Keyser’s return, and he says he’s ready.
“I’ve always wanted to have that chance to be a starter, so, I mean, it’s unfortunate that he got hurt, but I’m excited for the opportunity for me to get to play some games and show what I have.”
This weekend, Oshawa has a home-and-home series with the Ottawa 67s, starting in Ottawa on Friday (Nov. 10) and back at the Tribute Communities Centre on Sunday (Nov. 12).