Meteors Grind Out Win In Opener

Rylan Masterson is a changed player.

The 18-year-old defenceman for the Fort Erie Meteors has found the sweet spot between discipline and aggressiveness and is playing the best hockey of his life.

Masterson turned in another solid effort Saturday as the Meteors topped the Port Colborne Sailors 5-2 in the opener of their best-of-seven Greater Ontario Junior Hockey League quarter-final playoff series.

Masterson produced a career best 39 points in 45 regular season games while spending only 81 minutes in the penalty box, a career low.

“I changed my game a lot compared from my first year to now,” Masterson said. “My first year I just ran around and chirped guys and started stuff up but I’ve changed to more of a skilled game, more of a playmaker and jumping into the rush more often.”

Masterson also reduced his physical play out of necessity.

“I cut down on my hitting. I missed a lot of games — my shoulders couldn’t handle it — but this year I’ve been able to play every game. My body is good. It’s not killing me.”

The Mets named Masterson captain this season, a sign of his maturity.

“I don’t think it was too hard,” he said, when asked about his attitude change. “I just had to sit down and think what I was doing. I was hurting my team more than I was helping them so I motivated myself to change and worked on it in practice.”

Meteors assistant coach Anthony Passero is a big fan of Masterson.

“It’s crazy, it’s just maturity,” Passero said. “We’ve had him since he was 15 and over the years you could see when he would lose it and now it’s not even an option for him. It’s fun to watch. 

“Me and Nik (general manager/coach Nik Passero) kind of laugh he’s another brother of ours because he’s been here so long. He’s calm, cool and collected and knows he can snap and hit somebody but right now he has one goal — he wants to win and he’s driving the bus.”

The Meteors led 2-1 heading into the third against a determined Port Colborne squad.

“I’m happy with the way we played,” Anthony Passero said. “I was just telling the guys they’re a hard team to play against. They pack it in tight so they’re trying to hang on for 60 minutes. As long as we don’t get down on the bench, guys start doubting what they’re doing, we’re going to be fine. They will do that for seven games if they have to and we just have to find a way to get to the inside and I think we did that tonight.”

The Meteors are well aware of the need to stay in the moment and not get ahead of themselves as they pursue their first league title. 

“Everyone has the same goal. Sure, Port Colborne finished seventh but they’re not here to lose. That team wants to win, no matter if it’s one game or 16 to win it all. Our job is to come every night and win one game at a time. It’s going to be a long two-and-a-half months for us and we’re just going to take it stride by stride,” Anthony Passero said.

Metscellaneous: Andrew MacNiel, Nolan Stickland and Grant Spad were scratched for the Meteors . . . Val Johnson, Gavin Torkoff, Ethan Bolibruck, Nick Tymochenko and Aydan Doyle did not dress for the Sailors . . . Fort Erie defenceman R.J. Schmidt collected three assists . . . Hamilton topped Welland 6-4 Saturday to take a 2-0 lead in their series. Game 3 is in Welland Sunday. 


Meteors 5 Sailors 2

Fort Erie defenceman Rylan Masterson with a solid game on defence. 

Fort Erie Meteors: Hunter Coley (1); Kyle Adamo (1); Georgy Toroptsev (1); Sam Tonelli (1).

Port Colborne Sailors: Jacob Raposo (1); Carson Bennett (1).

Game stats: Shots on goal: By Fort Erie on Isaac Gravelle (42), by Port Colborne on Charlie Burns (25); Power plays: Fort Erie 0/2, Port Colborne 1/2; Penalty minutes: Fort Erie 6, Port Colborne 6.

Attendance: 900.

Up next: The Meteors visit Port Colborne Monday at 7:30 p.m. for Game 2.

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