Make it nine in a row by beating Avalon in opening game of league final
Justin Walsh (left) of the Avalon Capitals and Alex Powell of the St. John’s Caps jostle for position in front of the net during Game 1 of the 2013 St. John’s Junior Hockey League final Saturday night at Twin Rinks. St. John’s won 6-2. — Photo by Keith Gosse/The Telegram
A well-rested St. John’s Hickman’s Automotive Group Junior Caps exploded for three second-period goals, and sealed the deal with a pair of unanswered third-period tallies en route to a 6-2 win over Avalon Roebothan, McKay, Marshall Capitals in Game 1 of the Kent St. John’s Junior Hockey League final Saturday night at Twin Rinks.
Game 2 of the series goes 8:30 tonight at Capital Hyundai Arena. The third game is slated for 7 p.m. Tuesday at Goulds Arena.
The Caps, first-place finishers during the regular season, have sailed through the playoffs so far, riding a nine-game win streak with first- and second-round sweeps of Conception Bay North Moorfrost Stars and CBR Assante Wealth Management Renegades.
Avalon, meanwhile, had a tough six-game second-round series against BK Services Junior Celtics, a series in which Celtics took a 2-0 lead before the Capitals roared back with four straight wins.
“They’ve had the longer series, and they’ve had injury issues and coupled with that, we had more in the tank as the game went on,” Caps coach Paul Whittle said of Saturday night’s tilt that saw the teams tied 1-1 after the first period, before St. John’s grabbed a 4-2 advantage after 40 minutes.
“It was a tight game off the hop, and we only had two or three mental breakdowns,” he said. “But those breakdowns led to two goals. Outside of that, we did a good job taking away their space,” Whittle said.
The Caps lost only three games in the 28-game regular season, but two of those came against Avalon.
Avalon’s Michael Cole finished runner-up to Kyle McGuirk of St. John’s for the scoring crown, but Cole and teammate John Charles Snow are one-two in scoring in the post season.
“Everyone knows about Cole and Snow, and we’re definitely conscious when they’re on the ice,” Whittle said. “But there are no changes in our game plan. We’ve had a lot of success this year with the system we play, and we’ll be sticking with that.
“We just have to ensure everybody on our club knows what they have to do. When that happens, we feel pretty good about ourselves.”
Riley Ricks and Chad Furlong paced St. John’s Saturday with two goals and an assist each. Robbie Hynd and Ryan Perks also scored.
Andrew Marshall and Matthew Barrett replied for Avalon.
The Caps peppered Avalon goalie Doug Pippy with 39 shots. Scott Bray faced 30 Avalon drives in the St. John’s net.
Jungle Jim’s players of the game were Furlong and Avalon’s Alex Powell.