Grand Falls-Windsor grabs 2-0 lead in series with 4-2, 5-1 victories
For all but eight minutes in the opening period of Sunday’s Game 2 of The Telegram Herder Memorial Trophy Championship Series, the Clarenville Caribous played far better than they did in a Game 1 loss Saturday.
Chad Earle of the Clarenville Caribous eludes a check from Grand Falls-Windsor Cataracts defenceman Rodi Short as Clarenville’s Keith Delaney watches the play in Game 2 of the Herder Memorial Trophy championship final Sunday at Joe Byrne Memorial Stadium in Grand Falls-Windsor. The Cataracts won the game 4-2 for a 2-0 lead in the best-of-seven series. — Photo by Matt Molloy/Gander Beacon
Unfortunately for the Caribous, eight minutes was all the Grand Falls-Windsor Cataracts needed to stake themselves to a 2-0 lead in the best-of-seven provincial final.
After the Caribous took an early 1-0 lead, the Cats stormed back to score four times in the first period for a 4-2 win in front of a packed house at the Joe Byrne Memorial Stadium. Grand Falls-Windsor won the series-opener 5-1 Friday night.
“For the most part, we got away with scoring a few timely goals in the first period and tried to not steer too far away from what we do to make us successful,” says Cataracts coach Shane Lukinchuk.
“It’s tough in a playoff game when you get up by three goals after one period, and you’ve still got a lot of game to play properly.”
No question the Cataracts’ special teams were working just fine, as Grand Falls-Windsor scored one shorthanded goal and connected twice on the power play.
Clarenville bench boss Ivan Hapgood contends a couple of the Cats’ goals, “had eyes for the back of the net”, but added undisciplined penalties led to his team’s early collapse.
After Ryan Desrosiers opened the scoring and Cam Fergus tied it up with a shorthanded tally, the Caribous’ David Victor was sent off for slashing and the Cats’ Rob Hennigar made good on the man-advantage.
Following the Cataracts’ third goal — this one by Rodi Short — Jason Churchill lost his composure and was slapped with a pair of minors for roughing and unsportsmanlike conduct. Near the end of the period, Desrosiers got caught holding, and Cataracts captain Michael Brent netted a second power play marker.
“Not being disrespectful, but you could afford to take eight or 10 minutes off if you’re playing a team like Mount Pearl and get away with it,” Hapgood says. “But against a team like this, you can’t.”
It didn’t help that the Caribous weren’t able to capitalize on any of their seven power play opportunities, including a five-on-three late in the second stanza after Ryan Delaney had scored to narrow the gap to two goals.
“We had to bury one there,” said Hapgood. “As good a goaltender as (A.J.) Whiffen is, I saw guys like (Andrew) Sweetland in spots today where normally they’d roof that puck, but they ended up in the bread basket.”
Whiffen stopped 40 of 42 shots against in the win. Churchill had 33 saves in a losing effort.
Cataracts’ blueliner Sam Hounsell, who was serving one of the minors on the five-on-three deficit, was “majorly relieved” when his teammates made good on the penalty kill.
“When you get an opportunity like that and swing the momentum our way, it’s a big kill. We carried that momentum right through to the third,” says Hounsell.
“Props to the guys for killing that off for myself and Brandon Nicholas.”
“We got down and guys that typically put up points and you don’t expect to block shots, were all buying in,” adds Lukinchuk. “When you get that contribution out of those kinds of guys, it’s nice to see.”
One Cataract who had a whale of a weekend was Andrew Brennan. The 26-year-old from the Goulds was a blur on the ice and consistently outworked his man to the benefit of linemates Hennigar and Cam Fergus.
“Andrew’s got lot of skill, he’s got a ton of speed and he’s very tenacious,” says Lukinchuk. “The way he forechecks and creates turnovers for those guys, it’s a good compliment.”
In Saturday’s opener, Hennigar scored twice — once on the power play — with singles from Brennan, Andrew Pearcey, and Brandon Street. Whiffen faced a paltry 17 shots and had his shutout bid spoiled by Chad Earle late in the third period.
Churchill faced 29 shots.
The series moves back to Clarenville for Games 3, 4 and, if necessary, 5 next weekend at the Clarenville Events Centre.
Hapgood says if any team can mount a comeback against the Cataracts, it’s his group.
“It’s a rough road back to have to win four out of five. They’ll dig down deep when we take it home next weekend,” says Hapgood. “We’re by no means writing off this series.”