SPIRIT THIS WEEK: TWOHEY’S RETURN AIDS STOUFFVILLE’S PUSH FOR THE PLAYOFFS

Stouffville Spirit assistant captain Nathan Twohey recorded seven points during four games this week. (Photo by Michelle Malvaso / OJHL Images)

As the Stouffville Spirit makes a push to get in the Ontario Junior Hockey League playoffs, they have received a major boost.

Veteran defenceman Nathan Twohey, a leader on and off the ice, is back on the active roster.

The assistant captain, who spent much of the season on the injured list, returned to the lineup last Saturday.

The Spirit played four games during those seven days, winning three and gaining a point from an overtime loss in the other. Twohey recorded seven points during that span.

The Spirit is one point behind the Lindsay Muskies who are in the eighth and final playoff spot in the 12-team East Conference of the OJHL. The Cobourg Cougars are four points ahead of Lindsay, part of a logjam in the middle of the standings.

The Spirit has 16 games remaining on its schedule, which ends March 3.

“It’s very good to back,” Twohey said while en route to the Spirit’s 8-0 win in Burlington yesterday. “It was a long time. I think I missed around 13 weeks this year and, as my last year of junior, it’s not something I expected. So it’s great to be back and to be able to play with my teammates again.”

The Spirit hockey staff seconds that.

“Nathan is a huge part of our team,” said Spirit Head Coach TJ Hill. “He stabilizes our defence core and contributes positively in all aspects of the game. He is a character person and a great leader on our team.”

Twohey, who turns 21 March 5, commutes to games and practices from Peterborough where he attends Trent University. Since Grade 9, he’s wanted to follow in his mother’s footsteps and become a math and physics teacher.

Since Trent doesn’t ice a hockey team, he hopes to transfer to a Canadian university that does and continue playing next season.

Twohey had a dream come true when he played in the Ontario Hockey League playoffs last spring for the Sudbury Wolves, the Spirit’s OHL affiliate, against his hometown Peterborough Petes. Spirit forward Riley Pope also got the call.

“It was completely unexpected; I was in class when they called me, “ Twohey recalled. “It was such a great experience. We had three games left when I went up and we were two or three spots out of playing Peterborough in the playoffs. And it just so happened we ended up playing them. I got to play two games in front of a sold-out crowd in my home city, which was just a crazy experience.”

“I’ve seen many games there, picked up teddy bears off the ice from teddy bear tosses there… I’ve grown up around that rink my whole life.”

Twohey, captain Odaro Ewere, Myles Yearwood and forward Cam Kosurko are the only 20-year-old graduating players on the roster.

“It definitely went by quick,” said Twohey, whose first year of junior was cancelled by COVID-19. “My first year in Stouffville, the year after that, I saw guys like Joe Kennedy age out of Stouffville and I never really thought about that being me. Because you don’t think it’s going to come that fast and now I’m in that position where I (now 16) have games left in the regular season and that can be it.

“It’s some of the best times of your life, but it definitely goes by very fast.”

THE SCORES

Jan. 21: Spirit 8, North York 0

Myles Yearwood recorded the hat trick and an assist and Stephen Toltl posted the 24-save shutout at North York. Affiliate player Hayden Williams, called up from St. Andrew’s College, had a goal and two assists in his Jr. A debut. Other scorers were Nolan Jackson, Odaro Ewere and Peter Kioussis.

Jan. 23: Spirit 7, North York 5

The Spirit scored four unanswered goals to erase a 4-3 North York lead after one period in North York. Vermont DI commit Andoni Fimis had two goals and an assist and Kioussis a goal and three assists. Riley Pope, Cam Kosurko, Danny Thomakos and Jackson had the other goals. Toltl relieved Kyle Downey to earn the victory

Jan. 26, Spirit 8, Burlington 0

Kioussis and Zack Corte scored in the opening minute in Burlington. Toltl made 36 saves, including some big ones early, for his second 8-0 shutout of the week. Thomakos, Alex Pasternak, Julian Demiglio, Ryan Harvey, Fimis and Twohey also scored. Kioussis and Jackson had three assists apiece.

THE SKED

Toronto Jr. Canadiens at Stouffville, Saturday, Jan. 27. 7:30 p.m

Stouffville at Cobourg, Monday, Jan. 29. 7 p.m.

Stouffville at Aurora, Thursday, Feb. 1, 2:30 p.m.

Niagara Falls at Stouffville, Saturday, Feb. 3, 7:30 p.m.

All Spirit games are broadcast on FloHockey. Go to:  https://www.flohockey.tv/

NOTEBOOK 

Toltl’s 1.93 goals against average is second lowest across the 24-team league. His save percentage is 0.928.

Kioussis has 28 goals and 24 assists. His 52 points is 15th highest across the 24-team league. Ewere has 48 points (16 goals/32 assists).

While the Spirit were shutting out Burlington on Friday night, Spirit goaltender Kyle Downey was recording his own shutout. Called up to the Kingston Frontenacs of the Ontario Hockey League, Downey stopped 13 shots as the Fronts won 10-0 over the Niagara Icedogs in Kingston.

Spirit This Week is sponsored by Farmer Jack’s in Stouffville and Sharon