Laing says Flyers have to be more desperate to stay alive
The Gander Flyers are hoping a sea of purple will guide the team back into its Western Division semifinal series against the Western Royals.
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The Royals will take a 2-0 series lead into Friday night’s game three at the Gander Community Centre, and one more win will send them to the Western Division final against the Grand Falls-Windsor Cataracts.
The Royals took games one and two at the Hodder Memorial Recreation Complex in Deer Lake over the weekend by respective scores of 7-4 and 5-1.
The Royals took a 1-0 lead into the second period of Saturday night’s game one, but exploded early in the second with three goals in the opening two minutes to go ahead 4-0. Justin Barbour, Andrew Smith and Matthew Thomey picked up the early second-period goals.
“Everything was pretty even. They were up 1-0 in the first period, and they got that goal on a broken-stick play. The puck went right to Michael Hynes after Jeremy (Van Hoof) broke his stick,” said Flyers’ head coach Dennis Laing. “As a team, we tried to figure out what happened in the first two minutes of the second, but you have to give them credit. They got the jump on us. All three lines got scored on…and we had to try to stop the bleeding then.”
Scott Doody scored late in the second to give the Royals a 5-1 lead, which was increased to 6-1 when Hynes scored his second of the game just 33 seconds into the third.
Adam Ivany and Peter Campbell scored back-to-back goals to cut the lead in half, but the Royals held on to pick up the win.
Chad Locke and Mitch Flynn also scored for Gander.
Besides the opening two periods of the second period, Laing was happy with his team’s effort. He said a number of players were just coming off of injuries, and the equipment belonging to one of his defenceman never arrived in time for Saturday’s game.
“We had four or five players who were coming back from injuries, and Jeremy had no equipment and had to use Darren Langdon’s skates. His equipment was lost during the flight,” said Laing. “We never had (Rob) Mignardi on Saturday, and it was like Peter had to go all over the country to get a flight here. We got hit with bad luck.”
Through it all, Laing gave full credit to the Royals, who he said came out of the gate with plenty of gusto following some pre-game ceremonies. Ed Kearsey, the team’s former head coach, stepped down prior to the start of playoffs, and the team released its former captain, Nathan Saunders.
We need to play desperate, and we have to play every shift like it’s our last Dennis Laing
Stephen Simms was named the new captain, while former captain Steve North took over for Kearsey.
“I give Western credit. With the coaching change they made, and announcing their new captain before game one, plus they handed out a few awards before the game, they had the momentum,” said Laing. “They played really well that game.”
Sunday’s game was scoreless after the first, but the Royals scored three times in the middle frame to go ahead 3-1.
In the third, the Royals took advantage of a few Flyers’ penalties to score two power-play goals, and went on to win game two by a four-goal margin.
Ryan Matheson scored Gander’s lone goal while on a power play.
“In my opinion, Western brought the playoff mode to us,” said Laing. “We’re playing in their rink, they have last change, and they used that to their advantage.”
Laing went on to elaborate that the series isn’t over, and the Flyers have to use home-ice advantage just as effectively as the Royals did over the weekend.
He said his team has to play more desperately, and to help with that, the team has asked its fans to wear purple to the rink on Friday night to show their support.
The head coach said his team would relish the chance to play in front of more than 1,000 purple-clad fans.
“Hopefully, we’ll be ready for Friday night so we can give the fans some good entertainment. We’ll bring it,” said Laing. “We need to play desperate, and we have to play every shift like it’s our last. Our players have to come to play, and they have to play with discipline and with heart. We have to bring it up a notch.
“We had fan support over in Deer Lake, and we had it despite all of the bad weather we had. Hopefully, the fans will come out wearing purple this weekend, and we’ll give them a good game to watch.”
Friday night’s game begins at 8 p.m., and Saturday’s game four (if necessary) will start at 7:30 p.m. at the GCC.
If the series goes to five games, the finale will be held in Deer Lake on Sunday.