The Clarenville Caribous own a 3-1 lead in their Newfoundland Senior Hockey League semifinal with the Conception Bay North Eastlink CeeBee Stars, but Caribous’ head coach Ivan Hapgood doesn’t think his team should be feeling too self-satisfied.
Clarenville won the last two games of the series on the CeeBees’ home ice in Harbour Grace and can clinch the best-of-seven set with a win at home this Friday, but Hapgood says he saw a few chinks in his team’s armour over the weekend at S.W. Moores Memorial Stadium, where the Caribous posted a pair of one-goal victories.
On Saturday, Clarenville built up a 3-0 lead over two periods and held on for a 3-2 win, That was after outlasting the CeeBees 7-6 Friday night.
“For whatever reason, we seem to be having trouble holding on to the lead,” said Hapgood, noting his team was up 5-2 at one point Friday but still had to pull out the win with two late third-period goals.
“I’ve been around a while and it seems to me that one time, when you got a team down you buried them, but that doesn’t seem to be the way the game’s played now.
“The killer instinct isn’t there and it’s really puzzling.”
On the positive side, Hapgood said the Caribous played a lot tighter defensively Saturday compared to Friday.
“There were a lot of odd-man rushes Friday night,” he said. “The puck was like rubber ball and there were a lot of giveaways and turnovers.”
Despite the fact the Caribous will be playing in the friendly atmosphere of the Clarenville Events Centre for Game 5, Hapgood doesn’t put much faith in home-ice advantage these days.
”Home ice usually means you are more comfortable. But comfortable doesn‘t always mean better,” he said.
“All the games so far have been won by one goal and I don’t see things changing the rest of the way.”
The CeeBees won Game 1 of the series 3-2 in Clarenville, while the Caribous rebounded with a 6-5 home-ice win in Game 2.
Game time Friday is 8 p.m.
The winner of the series will advance to the Herder Memorial Trophy provincial championship to face whichever club emerges from the other semifinal. The defending Herder champion Grand Falls-Windsor Cataracts lead that series 3-1 after beating the Corner Brook Royals twice over the weekend at the Pepsi Centre in Corner Brook
CLARENVILLE VS. C.B.N.
Caribous 3, CeeBees 2 (Saturday)
At Harbour Grace, Bryan Duffett, Ryan Desrosiers and Steven Yetman scored for the Caribous, who got 25 saves from netminder Jason Churchill, while C.B.N. goalie Doug Jewer made 34 saves.
Mike Dyke and Chris Sparkes scored for the CeeBees.
Caribous 7, CeeBees 6 (Friday)
Brandon Roach’s goal with 28 seconds left in the third period gave the Caribous the win.
Andrew Sweetland notched a pair of goals for Clarenville. Chris Hulit, Dale Sullivan, Steven Yetman and Matthew Bragg had singles.
Keith Delaney and Kyle Doucet scored twice for the CeeBees. Mike Dyke and Ryan Delaney scored singles.
Devon O’Brien had 38 saves for Clarenville, while Jewer made 27 saves for C.B.N.
GRAND FALLS-WINDSOR VS. CORNER BROOK
Cataracts 6, Royals 0 (Sunday)
At Corner Brook, the Cataracts took a 3-1 stranglehold in the other semifinal with a 6-0 shutout of the Royals after eking out a 4-3 victory Saturday night at the Pepsi Centre.
Chris Peach, Ryan Penney, Mike Sibley Chad Earle, Tyler Whitehead and Matt Quinn provided the Cats’ offence with single markers, while Grand Falls goalie Mark Yetman turned aside all 32 shots sent his way.
Like the CeeBees, the Royals now face the prospect of elimination in an away contest on Friday night. That’s when Game 5 of the series will be played at Joe Byrne Memorial Stadium in Grand Falls-Windsor.
With files from The Western Star