Goaltender Mario Peccia and his Kingston Frontenacs teammates have sent an early message to Ontario Hockey League opponents.
Not only have the Frontenacs burst out of the gate by winning four of their first five games, Peccia was in the lead role in what he classified as the team’s statement game in London against the Knights last Friday night.
Peccia and company blanked the Knights 5-0 in one of the most thorough wins a Kingston team has ever produced in London.
“We wanted to go into London and prove a point. Prove like we are for real and we did just that,” the 18-year-old Peccia, who turned back 24 shots for his first OHL shutout, said.
He acknowledged that it was a big moment for him personally, “but I think it was a big moment for our team.”
“Full credit to the guys in front of me, blocking shots, chipping pucks out. The ‘D’ was moving guys in front. It is all on them. I was just happy to be part of it,” Peccia said.
“We went there and played with confidence and showed the league we are for real. We are going to gain confidence from that.”
With eight points in five games, Kingston is off to its best start since the 2013-14 season, when the Fronts picked up nine points from four wins and a shootout loss in their opening five contests. That season, Kingston didn’t lose its first game in regulation until its ninth game of the season, going 7-0-0-1 up to that point.
Peccia returns to the Frontenacs after playing 626 minutes in his rookie season. He posted a 2.88 goals-against average and a record of 4-4-1-1.
Frontenacs head coach Jay Varady said the plan would be to spread the playing minutes out more evenly, although obviously Jeremy Helvig remains the team’s No. 1 goaltender. Helvig played in 59 regular-season games and 11 more in the playoffs last season. In total he was in net for 4,109 minutes.
“It’s a situation where Mario is here growing and developing. He had a good pre-season and a good first start. He is a guy who has got to see more minutes,” Varady said.
“With our schedule this year, we’ve got eight more [three-games-in-three-nights weekends]. Those are opportunities for multiple goaltenders to play different games. Whatever that rotation is will be kind of dictated by what is happening in the moment.”
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