Prior to Wednesday’s Avalon East semifinal opener between the Blades and Eagles at the Glacier in Mount Pearl, someone suggested to Northeast coach Steve Power that his team might steal a victory in Game 1.
“I don’t think we’re in the business of stealing a game. I think we’re in the business of winning this series,” the Rona Eagles bench boss said.
In the end, it was the H.J. Bartlett Electric Blades who stole the game as Colin Power scored with less than a minute remaining in the third period to break a 3-3 tie and give Mount Pearl a 4-3 win.
The Eagles led on three separate occasions — going up 1-0, 2-1 and 3-2 — and for much of the first two periods, they were the better team on the ice.
By the time the third frame rolled around, Mount Pearl’s relentless dump-and-chase attack became too much for Northeast, which was outshot 17-4 in the final 20 minutes.
“Our game plan was to get the pucks deep, finish the checks in the corners and really make them work,” says the league’s regular-season leading scorer, Andrew Pearcey of the Blades
“That really wore on them late in the third.”
Subway player of the game honours went to Eagles’ netminder Patrick O’Brien who stopped 41 of 45 shots, including a number a highlight-reel games. Mount Pearl’s Roger Kennedy made 22 saves in the win.
“He gave us a chance to win,” Power said of his goalie.
The Blades’ Terry Ryan says O’Brien is one of the best puck-handling goalies on the island and always “great under pressure.”
“We went into the third period tied 3-3 and I must have had seven good chances alone in the third. But he’s cool, calm and collected.”
Pearcey, who compares O’Brien’s style to that of former NHL star Dominik Hasek, says the Blades need to stick to their strategy if they hope to keep besting the Eagles No. 1 puckstopper throughout the series.
“I though we had a lot of traffic in front of him tonight and he was still seeing around us. We’re going to have to keep crashing, shoot them low and get some rebounds off this guy because he made a lot of really nice saves tonight.”
Kenney Pennell, Paul Mitchelmore and Blades’ Captain Mark Chaplin also scored, while Kenny King, Chris Ennis and Colin Feehan lit the lamp for the Eagles, who return home for Games 2 and 3 Friday and next Wednesday.
Steve Power believes if his team can match Wednesday’s showing through the next couple of games, and “give it a little more effort in the third, it’s going to be a long series.”
And the longer the series goes, the Northeast coach figures the more it favours it his team.
“Let’s call a spade a spade, outside our dressing room, there’s not many people who expect us to win. The longer it can go, we’ll have more belief and more of a chance and we’ll become a dangerous team.”