© — Photo by Matt Molloy/The Advertiser
The Clarenville Caribous' Terry Ryan (right) looks for a lane around the Grand Falls-Windsor Cataracts' Rodi Short in Game 1 of the Telegram Herder Memorial Trophy Championship Series at the Joe Byrne Memorial Stadium in Grand Falls-Windsor Saturday night. The hosts took the best-of-seven series opener 5-1. Game 2 is tomorrow (Sunday) at 2 p.m.
Grand Falls-Windsor defeats Clarenville Caribous 5-1 in Herder Memorial Trophy final opener
The Grand Falls-Windsor Cataracts hadn’t played a game in nearly two weeks, but the regular season champs showed no signs of rust in a dominant 5-1 win over the Clarenville Caribous in Game 1 of the Telegram Herder Memorial Trophy Championship Series Saturday in at the Joe Byrne Memorial Stadium in Grand Falls-Windsor.
The Cats, winners of the Evening Telegram Trophy for finishing atop the league standings this season with 38 points, stymied the Caribous’ offense from the drop of the puck, never giving Clarenville’s talented stable of forwards the time and space to gain the zone, let alone set up quality scoring chances.
“We wanted to make sure we were doing a good job in the neutral zone, with good sticks, good positioning and try to clog it up and take their skill and speed out of the game,” says Cataracts’ coach Shane Lukinchuk, who was presented with Hockey Newfoundland and Labrador’s (HNL) first ever senior hockey coach of the year award prior to the game.
As good as the Cataracts’ front end was in scoring five goals, the team’s back end was outstanding in shutting down the Caribous’ and creating turnovers.
“They did a good job of recognizing when we had numbers, especially in the neutral zone where we stacked up our blueline and made it difficult for them to enter the zone,” Lukinchuk.
“A lot people look at our team as being an offensive threat where we’ve got three of the top scorers in the league, but I don’t think our back end gets enough credit. It’s strong from one to seven.”
Caribous forward Dale Sullivan admits there was some frustration and contends the ice surface is a little smaller than what they’re accustom to at the Clarenville Events Centre. Still, the Caribous recognize they didn’t do all they could to overcome the Cataracts in the series opener.
“We’ve just gotta get pucks deep, we had way too many neutral zone turnovers and that killed our game,” says the Southern Shore native.
“Our game is speed, get it deep and work the D. They didn’t allow us to do it and we didn’t force it enough tonight.”
Rob Hennigar led the Cats’ attack with a pair of goals, with singles from Andrew Pearcey, Brandon Street and Andrew Brennan into an empty net.
The Caribous’ Chad Earle spoiled AJ Whiffen’s bid for a shutout with under five minutes to play in regulation.
Shots were 24-16 in favour of the Cataracts.
Game 2 in the best-of-seven series goes tomorrow (Sunday) at 2 p.m. Follow it all live on thetelegram.com
In addition to the claiming the Evening Telegram Trophy and Lukinchuk taking coach of the year honours, the Cataracts swept the trophy table clean as HNL presented its regular season awards.
The winners were:
Gus Soper Memorial Award (MVP): Hennigar
S.E Tuma Memorial Award (Top Scorer): Hennigar
Presidents Award (Top Goaltender): Whiffen
Top Defensemen: Rodi Short