After weekend split at Mile One, teams prepare for three games at Corner Brook’s Pepsi Centre
Grand Falls-Windsor Cataracts’ goaltender Mark Yetman gets a stick in the mask as the Clarenville Caribous’ Chris Hulit skates through the crease during Game 1 of the best-of-seven 2012 Telegram Herder Memorial Trophy Championship Series at Mile One Centre Saturday night. Cataracts’ defenceman Sam Hounsell is on the right. The teams split the first two games of the best-of-seven provincial senior hockey final, with the Cataracts winning 5-1 Saturday and the Caribous rebounding for a 5-2 victory Sunday afternoon. — Photo by Joe Gibbons/The Telegram
The 2012 Telegram Herder Memorial Trophy Championship Series started on the weekend at Mile One Centre in St. John’s, and given what transpired in the opening games of the best-of-seven matchup, there’s reason to believe the Grand Falls-Windsor Cataracts and Clarenville Caribous will be playing more hockey at Mile One early next month.
The defending Herder champion Cataracts knocked off the Caribous 5-1 series in Saturday’s series opener, but the Herd regrouped and responded with a 5-2 win in Game 2 Sunday afternoon.
Exact figures weren’t made available, but attendance was reported to be about 5,100 Saturday and 4,100 on Sunday.
Games 3, 4 and 5 will be played this coming weekend at the Pepsi Centre in Corner Brook. If the series is extended beyond that, Game 6 would go Thursday April 5 at Mile One. If it goes the distance, all will be decided Good Friday, April 6 at Mile One.
But the focus now is squarely on the games in Corner Brook, to be played Friday, Saturday and Sunday.
Caribous’ forward Ryan Desrosier expects a tough series to get tougher.
“Heading to Corner Brook, both teams are going to probably take a good look at (what happened in) the first two games and tighten up even more,” says Desrosiers.
“It’s going to be a dogfight, no doubt about that.”
But Cataracts’ coach Brian Casey isn’t even looking past Game 3.
“You can’t win two in a row until you win a first game,” says Casey.
“We’ll be ready to go Friday night; I guarantee that. We’re going to get back to the battle and the way we’ve got to play.”
Casey says the Cats got away from their game plan Sunday, giving the Caribous more time and space.
“We need to make sure we’re putting them in tough, uncomfortable positions,” he says.
“We don’t want to open the game up, we want to work them down low and wear them down.”
Desrosiers says the Caribous need to make better decisions in the “grey zones” next weekend.
“That two- or three-foot radius inside and outside the blueline,” he explained.
“There were times we pinched when it wasn’t a good idea.”
Clarenville showed plenty of energy at the start of the weekend games at Mile One, but in both contests, it was the Cataracts who led after the opening frame. And in both cases, Grand Falls scored goals on two of their first four shots on Caribous’ netminder Jason Churchill.
Jeff Caron, whose power-play goal proved to be the game-winner Sunday, says the Caribous obviously want to avoid similar opening periods through the rest of the series, but that whatever transpires, they need to retain the early jump they showed at Mile One.
“We seemed to sag a little bit once they got one,” says Caron.
“We’ve got to get a quick start again and we can’t let up.”
Despite another less-than-stellar start Sunday, Churchill — with the help of some timely shot-blocking by his teammates — settled into a 24-save performance.
Mark Yetman was solid in the Cataracts’ crease for a fourth-straight game. He had entered the weekend coming off back-to-back shutout wins in the last two games of the semifinal series with Corner Brook, then stopped 24 of 25 shots on Saturday. On Sunday, despite the loss, he made Clarenville work for its goals with 29 saves.
Casey hopes his netminder continues to feel good and perform well.
“I think his confidence is high right now, we’ve just got to do a better job of defending him,” says Casey.
Desrosiers, Brad Crann, Matt Bragg, and Chris Hulit, into an empty net also scored for Clarenville Sunday.
Andre Gill and Brandon Nicholas responded for Grand Falls-Windsor.