© — Photo by Matt Molloy/The Beacon
Scott Doody of the Western Royals slips a backhand past Gander Flyers’ goalie Devin O'Brien in the second period of Friday night’s Game 3 of the team’s Newfoundland Senior Hockey League best-of-five quarter-final series. The Royals defeated the Flyers 6-4 to pick up the sweep, and earn a berth in the Western final against the league-leading Grand Falls-Windsor Cataracts.
Western draw Grand Falls-Windsor, Mount Pearl get Clarenville in next round
No matter the style of play adopted by the teams, the upcoming Newfoundland Senior Hockey League (NLSHL) divisional final between the Clarenville Caribous and Mount Pearl H.J. Bartlett Electric Blades is guaranteed to be a back-and-forth affair.
That’s because of the schedule for the best-of-seven series, which will begin next weekend. Normally, the higher-seeded Caribous, with home-ice advantage, would host the first two games, but that won’t happen because of the 2014 Newfoundland and Labrador Winter Games, being held in Clarenville starting next Saturday.
The Clarenville Events Centre (CEC), the Caribous’ home ice, is the venue for many of the Games events, including Saturday’s opening ceremony and the closing ceremony Mar. 8. In both cases, the ice needs to be covered to accommodate parading athletes. That’s a process that takes hours, both for set-up and take-down, which means converting back for a hockey game will be too difficult.
So when the Caribous-Blades series gets underway Saturday night, it will do so at The Glacier in Mount Pearl. The series will then move the Clarenville for Game 2 on Sunday. It will be the same sort of pattern as the series continues the following weekend, with Game 3 Saturday, March 8 in Mount Pearl and Game 4, if necessary, Sunday, March 9 at the CEC.
If the series is further extended, the teams could be a taking a few more bus trips across the Avalon Peninsula and along the isthmus, with Game 5 on Friday, March 14 in Clarenville, Game 6 on Saturday, March 15 at The Glacier and Game 7 Sunday, March 16 back in Clarenville. All carry the “if necessary” tag.
The West division semifinal between the Western Royals and Grand Falls-Windsor Cataracts will have a more orthodox schedule, beginning with games next Saturday and Sunday at Joe Byrne Memorial Stadium in Grand Falls and then switching to the Hodder Memorial Complex in Deer Lake for Games 3 and 4 the following weekend.
The Cataracts and Caribous finished 1-2 in the league’s overall standings, giving them byes through the first round of the playoffs. They could be scraping off some rust when they get to the divisional finals as they haven’t played since the regular season ended two weeks ago.
The Blades and Royals, meanwhile, both swept their best-of-five opening-round series, finishing things off with wins on Friday night. Mount Pearl downed defending champion Conception Bay North Eastlink CeeBee Stars 2-0 in Harbour Grace to take the East division semifinal in three straight games, while the Royals got by the Gander Flyers 6-4 at the Gander Community Centre to wrap up the West division semi.
Blades 2, CeeBees 0
At S.W. Moores Memorial Stadium in Harbour Grace, Mount Pearl goalie Ryan Mior made 28 saves for the shutout and the Blades got the only goal they needed from Spencer Jezegou late in the second period.
Mark Tobin scored Mount Pearl’s other goal late in the third to end the CeeBees’ hopes for a repeat win of the Herder Memorial Trophy.
It was the Blades’ seventh straight win — four in the regular season, three in the playoffs — over the CeeBees.
“(The Blades have) got a good team and even better goalie,” CeeBees coach Peter George told Nick Mercer of The Compass. “I thought our boys put it all on the line tonight. They played very, very well, but unfortunately it just wasn’t our year.
“We had a short bench all year and the guys in that room, they came out and they battled hard every night.”
About 600 fans in attendance at S.W. Moores Memorial Stadium gave the CeeBees a standing ovation at the end of Friday’s game.
"I want to thank the players first and foremost. We have a group of diehard fans that come out every night … we certainly want to thank them too," said George.
Royals 6, Flyers 4
At Gander, Scott Doody scored twice as part of a five-goal second period for Western in a 6-4 win over the Flyers.
Darren Langdon, Justin Barbour, Matthew Thomey and Mark Robinson had the other goals for the Royals, while Chad Locke, Ryan Matheson, Peter Campbell and Jon Reid replied for the Flyers.