Western and Mount Pearl take 2-0 leads in best-of-five quarter-finals
Two teams in command. Two teams in desperation mode.
The Western Royals and Mount Pearl H. J. Bartlett Electric Blades are each a win away from advancing to the next round of the Newfoundland Senior Hockey League playoffs after using home ice to full advantage on the opening weekend of the post-season.
© — Photo by Rhonda Hayward/The Telegram
The Mount Pearl Blades’ Blake Gallagher (left) looks for someone to pass to from behind the net while being watched closely by the C.B.N. CeeBee Stars’ Tyler Gale (25) and netminder Roger Kennedy during Game 2 of the team’s best-of-five Newfoundland Senior Hockey League quarter-final series Saturday night at the Glacier. The Blades, who won Game 1 4-3, took this one 5-2 and can wrap up the series Friday.
The Royals defeated the Gander Flyers 5-1 Sunday afternoon in Deer Lake after opening their best-of-five West division semifinal with a 7-4 victory Saturday night. The Blades are also up 2-0 in their East semifinal, having downed the Conception Bay North CeeBee Stars 5-2 Saturday and 4-2 Friday at the Mount Pearl Glacier.
Both series resume next Friday after switching locations, with Game 3s in Gander and Harbour Grace.
The winter weather system that hit Atlantic Canada over the weekend affected the availability of players in both series.
In Mount Pearl, the Blades had to play Friday’s game with leading goalscorer Ryan Graham and import forwards Blake Gallagher and Spencer Jezegou because of cancellations of flights from the mainland. The CeeBees were without Matt Bragg and import Ben Duffy for the same reason. Meanwhile, on the west coast, the Royals went into Game 1 of their series without import goalie Bryan Gillis, also hung up because of flight issues from Halifax, and the Flyers had to make do without import forward Rob Mignardi. As well, Western’s Parker Deighan and Colin Power were late arriving to the contest because of the weather.
All the affected players were back in their respective lineups for the second games. So was Mount Pearl’s No. 1 netminder, Ryan Mior, who wasn’t at Friday’s game so as to be with his wife, who was giving birth.
Royals 5, Flyers 1 (Sunday)
At the Hodder Memorial Complex in Deer Lake, Gillis made 23 saves in his return to action, while Western got goals from Chris Peach, Darren Langdon, Michael Hynes, Stephen Simms and Matthew Thomey.
Hynes added two assists.
Ryan Matheson had the lone marker for Gander, which got 40 saves from netminder Patrick O’Brien.
The series moves to the Gander Community Centre for Game 3 on Friday. If a Game 4 is necessary, it will also go in Gander on Saturday, and if the Flyers can somehow force it to the limit, a fifth and deciding contest will be played next Sunday at Deer Lake.
The winner of the series advances to the best-of-seven West division final against the Grand Falls-Windsor Cataracts, who earned a bye through the first round of the playoffs after finishing first overall in the regular season.
Royals 7, Flyers 4 (Saturday)
Justin Barbour and Steven Hynes each had two goals and an assist for the Royals, while Langdon chipped in with four assists for the Western, which provided new coach Steve North with a win in his first game behind the bench.
North had taken over for Eddie Kearsey, who resigned Monday after the team cut captain Nathan Saunders for what has been described as “unprofessional conduct” by team president Ross Coates.
Scott Doody, Andrew Smith and Thomey also scored for Western, which built up a 4-0 lead on the strength of goals by Barbour, Smith and Thomey in a 72-second stretch early in the second period.
Chad Locke, Peter Campbell, Adam Ivany and Mitch Flynn scored for Gander.
Bradley Dyke, filling in for the absent Gillis, made 37 saves for Western, while Gander starting netminder Patrick O’Brien was chased by the Royals’ scoring flurry early in the second. He and Devon O’Brien combined for 47 saves.
Blades 5, CeeBees 2 (Saturday)
At Mount Pearl, Corey Blackmore delivered a hat trick to lead the home side, while Graham also had a three-point night for the Blades, with a goal and two assists.
Chris Mooney had the Mount Pearl’s other tally. Colin Feehan and Doug O’Brien replied for the CeeBees.
Feehan’s shorthanded goal late in the second period had tied the game 1-1, but the Blades struck for three goals in a five-minute, 17-second span in the third, beginning with a Blackmore marker at 2:19.
Mior made 29 saves for the win, while Roger Kennedy had 30 stops in the CeeBees’ net.
Game 3 is Friday night at S.W. Moores Memorial Stadium and if the defending champion CeeBees stave off elimination, Game 4 will be played there as well on Saturday night. Game 5, if necessary, would be played Sunday afternoon at the Glacier.
The winner of the series will face the Clarenville Caribous in the next round.
Blades 4, CeeBees 3 (Friday)
Steven Yetman, with his second of the game, and Mark Tobin scored goals three minutes apart in the third period as the Blades overcame a 3-2 deficit, while netminder Doug Jewer made 25 saves for Mount Pearl.
Mooney also scored for Mount Pearl, while Chris Sparkes, Matthew Quinn and Feehan replied for the CeeBees, who held a one-goal lead until Yetman got the tying tally at 6:01 of the third and then set up Tobin for the winner at 9:00.
Tobin and Mooney each had two assists.