Game Day: Red-hot Tavistock Braves the class of PJHL's Doherty Division

Tavistock Braves' goalies Jensen Van Boekel (pictured) and Carter Roth have combined to post a .930 save percentage this season. Cory Smith/The Beacon Herald jpg, SF

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There are a lot of shiny statistics when evaluating the Tavistock Braves’ season.

Twelve players averaging at least a point per game. A goal differential of plus-59. Seven wins at home and five on the road, adding up to a 12-1-0-0 record overall, which includes an 11-game win streak entering this weekend’s three-game set.

Not a bad place to be atop the Provincial Junior Hockey League’s Doherty Division. The Braves have spent plenty of time there in two-plus seasons, but it’s been a different journey there this year with injuries leading to opportunities throughout the lineup.

“We have very high expectations of ourselves, and we prepare to win every night,” Braves head coach Dan Kalbfleisch said. “The players have bought into that and there’s been an opportunity to test our chemistry with different lines and units, and that’s been a benefit for us and will continue to be going forward.”

Only four players have dressed for all 13 games, and the Braves haven’t iced the same lineup for consecutive games all season.

“It seems like as soon as one guy comes back, another guy goes out,” Kalbfleisch said.

Overager Thomas Haffner has been a revelation on the blue-line, leading the PJHL with 28 points. Forward Drew Gerth is right behind with 27 points, and his 13 goals leads the team.

“They’ve put up points,” Kalbfleisch said, “but game in, game out they bring a work ethic and compete level and attention to detail, and it’s paying off.”

Tanner Johnson, Mitch McKay, Josh Helgerman, Ian Glendinning, Ryan Donat, Bradley Smith, Patrick Vulgan, Zac Berg, Derek Jensen and Justin Labrie are also averaging a point per game.

“We were confident in our depth of the roster, but you never know until you get started,” Kalbfleisch said.

In net, veteran Jensen Van Boekel and rookie Carter Roth have combined to post a .930 save percentage. While Van Boekel has established himself as one of the top goalies in the league, Roth – a 17 year old from Stratford – has proven himself in five games.

“Going forward, having that depth is going to be important,” Kalbfleisch said. “At different levels, managing of goalies’ workloads seems to pay off in the long run, so that’s a plus for us moving forward.”

Tavistock’s power play (22.7 per cent) is third in the division, but its penalty kill (79.6 per cent) is seventh as players and coaches adjust to a new system.

“The process was good, but results weren’t showing what on-ice play was,” Kalbfleisch said. “It’s trending in the right direction.”

The Braves are in New Hamburg tonight and Wellesley Sunday afternoon. They host Norwich Saturday at 7:30 p.m.

“It’s internal competition that will drive our team forward,” Kalbfleisch said. “We’re nowhere close to where we want to get to It’s a season-long process.”

It doesn’t happen often, but the Stratford Warriors will be on the road on a Friday night.

Stratford visits the Steve Kerr Memorial Complex in Listowel at 7:30 before hosting the rematch Sunday night at 7:30.

The Warriors (10-6-1-2) have won five straight and are coming off a three-game sweep last weekend, though the third-place Cyclones will present a stiffer challenge than Brantford, Brampton and Waterloo.

Listowel (12-4-1-1) is undefeated in four and coming off a 2-2 tie last Friday against Kitchener.

St. Marys (13-4-1-1) will put its four-game win streak on the line tonight when it hosts Strathroy at 7:30 p.m. The Lincolns are solidly in third in the Western Conference and sit one point back of Leamington and five behind first-place London.

St. Marys is 6-2-0-1 at the Pyramid Recreation Centre, while seventh-place Strathroy is 5-5-0-1 on the road.

Mitchell is on the road for a pair of games this weekend.

The Hawks (10-6-0-1) visit Wingham tonight and Kincardine Saturday before returning home Nov. 15 against Mount Forest. Mitchell is third in the PJHL’s Pollock Division.