Liam Kirk reaches 25 OHL points in last game before World Juniors

In the Peterborough Pete’s 39th game of the season, Liam Kirk notched his 25th point in another stellar performance for the British winger as they took on the Mississauga Steelheads.

Coming into the game, Kirk was on 23 points with 13 goals and 10 assists, after an impressive turn of form for the recently turned 19-year-old after he went on a lengthy scoring drought early in his OHL career.

In three previous meetings with the Steelheads, Peterborough had picked up just one win and two losses, but with one overtime loss they’ve grabbed three of a possible six points, while Kirk picked up a goal and assist in the previous meetings.

As they entered their fourth meeting with Mississauga, and the third since December 29th, the Petes were in a mixed run of form, with five wins in their last 10, while Kirk has put up 11 goals in his previous 16 outings.

The Steelheads also came in after a big trade sent star forward Owen Tippett out of Mississauga. The Florida Panthers prospect was impressive despite a disappointing end for Canada at the World Juniors, but was traded to the Saginaw Spirit for for Aidan Prueter and six draft picks.

It didn’t take too long for the Pete’s to open the scoring, and it was once again Chris Paquette on the scoresheet with his 17th marker of the season, capitalising on the powerplay, tapping in a rebound at the back post to go 1 – 0 up. Just a few minutes later and it was another powerplay tally for Peterborough.

This time, Brady Hinz was the man getting credit. Some nice passing in the zone saw the puck spill back to Hinz who put it past Steelheads netminder Jacob Ingham at the second time of asking for a 2 – 0 Petes lead at the midway mark of the first.

Something that became a theme throughout the game, the Steelheads didn’t drop their heads. After surrendering their second goal, they wasted no time at all getting themselves back in contention. Captain Cole Carter solved Hunter Jones for the hosts first goal of the game, with his 25th tally on the season which made it a 2 – 1 hockey game going into the middle frame.

With just one goal separating the two sides at the end of 20, the next goal would be huge and again it was the hosts who got it. Liam Ham scored just seconds after a Peterborough penalty to Adam Timleck expired to tie things up at two each.

Enter Liam Kirk.

As the scores we’re tied 2 a piece, Kirk sprung into action. Just 12-seconds after going on the powerplay, Chris Paquette grabbed his second of the game, with Kirk getting credit on the secondary assist, passing the puck back to the point to Ryan Merkley who’s one-time effort was deflected in front by Paquette to once again put Peterborough ahead.

After grabbing his 11th assist of the season, moments later Kirk reached a mile stone, grabbing his 14th goal of his rookie season in the OHL, and his 25th point. Some aggressive forechecking by the Pete’s saw Kirk all alone in front of the net to jam the puck across the line on an unassisted tally, opening up a two goal margin with still over half the game to go.

Once again, Mississauga wasted no time in responding to close the gap, and with both sides grabbing another goal each it was a 5 – 4 scoreline in favour of Peterborough with just 20 minutes of action remaining.

Peterborough nursed a one goal lead into the third period but didn’t waste any time to start the final period. Just 3:16 into the third, Chad Denault re-opened the two goal cushion with his fourth of the season, on a two-on-one break with Max Grondin.

With a two-goal cushion, Peterborough continued to press but couldn’t solve Jacob Ingham easily, but it was at the other end of the ice where the goaltender was even more impressive.

Since the start of the season, Pete’s goalie Hunter Jones has seen his draft stock continuously rise ahead of the 2019 NHL Draft, and he was the busier of the two netminders, stopping 40 of 44 shot’s on the evening as neither side could find an extra goal until the Steelheads pulled the goal and Brady Hinz scored his second of the night, sending the puck the length of the ice, with Peterborough cruising through the third period to a 7 – 4 victory.

Kirk will now leave the Petes briefly as he joins up with Team GB ahead of the Divsion 2A World Juniors in Tallinn, Estonia, returning to the same place he helped the U18 team to a gold medal last year.


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Featured image: NHL.com

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