The Athens Aeros closed out their 2014-2015 Eastern Ontario Junior Hockey League regular season with a third place finish in the Rideau Division. The Aeros finished the season with a record of 17-20-3-4, good for 41 points. Entering the final week of the season the Aeros were tied with the Brockville Tikis for second place in the Rideau Division. A shootout loss to the Tikis and a pair of regulation losses against the Westport Rideaus left the Aeros three points behind at seasons end and gave the Tikis home ice advantage for their first round playoff series. The Aeros struggled early in the regular season against the Tikis starting the year 0-6. Late in the season the Aeros seemed to have the Tikis all figured out finishing the final three games 2-0-0-1, giving the Aeros plenty of confidence going into their first round series.
Game One started out slowly, with the Aeros holding a narrow 8-6 advantage in shots after the first period. The game stayed scoreless until a Ty Hannaford goal with under two minutes remaining in the second period gave the Aeros the first lead of the series. With seven seconds remaining in the second period Tikis forward Justin Rigby laid an illegal check on Aeros forward Drew Powell resulting in a five minute major for checking from behind. The hit was even more costly for the Aeros as leading scorer Powell suffered a concussion on the hit and went on to miss the rest of the series. The hit turned the game around as the Tikis outshot the Aeros 14-4 in the third period. With three and a half minutes left, former Aero Greg Heika beat Aeros goalie Alex Daley to tie the game at one. The game would stay tied until two and a half minutes into double overtime when Alex Stephenson scored to complete the comeback and give the Tikis a 1-0 series lead.
Game Two started no better for the Aeros as they were outshot 16-4 and trailed 2-0 after the first period. A second and a third period goal increased the Tikis lead as they would cruise to a 4-0 win, grabbing a 2-0 series lead in the process.
Game Three was a more even affair with both teams tied in shots 6-6 and goals 0-0 after the first period. The second period featured four goals, with three coming on special teams. Just over two minutes into the second period, Ryan Harper gave the Tikis the lead with his shorthanded goal. A few minutes later, Parker Grant and Liam Widdowfield scored two minutes apart to give the Aeros the lead 2-1, but about a minute after that Tanner Benton scored to tie the game back up at 2. The game stayed tied until Tanner Casselman scored with eight minutes left in the first overtime period to give the Tikis a 3-0 series lead.
Game Four saw the Aeros on the brink of elimination, with one more loss ending the Aeros season. The game carried the same feel as Game Three with the game remaining tied until the second period where four goals were scored. The Aeros and Tikis would alternate goals with J.P. Augustine and Josh Maley scoring for the Aeros and Noah Fisher and Reed Kekewich scoring for the Tikis. The game stayed tied past regulation for the third time in four playoff games, before Tanner Casselman played the hero for the second game in a row sending the Tikis to the second round of the playoffs and the Aeros home with three overtime losses and a series sweep.
Despite the tough end to the year Aeros General Manager Norm Racine was still proud of his team. “I’m proud of the guys, they dug deep. They lost three times in overtime, could have went either way. I’m disappointed we got bounced in the first round, especially how we finished the year. The second half of the year we were more consistent then we were in the first half, we almost caught the Tikis in second place, so the expectation was we were going to go further and disappointing that we didn’t but like I said I’m proud of the guys anyway,” he said.
The Aeros will have their annual banquet later in March and will be hosting their golf tournament in July.