© — Photo by Matt Molloy/The Advertiser
Clarenville Caribous’ defenceman Martin Lapointe beats the Grand Falls-Windsor Cataracts’ Andrew Brennan to a loose puck in the ‘Bous defensive zone during Game 1 of the Telegram Herder Memorial Trophy Championship Series last weekend at the Joe Byrne Memorial Stadium in Grand Falls-Windsor. Game 3 in the best-of-seven series, which the Cats lead 2-0, goes tonight at the Clarenville Events Centre.
Clarenville knows home-ice alone is not enough to prevail in Game 3 vs. Cataracts
Clarenville Caribous’ forward Ryan Desrosiers took particular interest in a story in Wednesday’s edition of The Telegram, one in which Grand Falls-Windsor Cataracts defenceman Luke Gallant talked about the Herder Memorial Trophy provincial senior hockey final, a best-of-seven series that sees the Cataracts leading the Caribous two games to none heading into tonight’s Game 3 (8 p.m.) at the Clarenville Events Centre.
Gallant told Telegram sports editor Robin Short that he wasn’t taking anything for granted despite the Cataracts’ strong start in the series. He recalled his days at the University of New Brunswick and the 2009-10 Atlantic University Sport season, which saw the UNB Varsity Reds win their first 26 games and finish with a 27-1 record, only to be swept by the St. Francis Xavier X-Men in a best-of-five playoff series.
“It’s funny because I was part of that (St. FX) team,” said Desrosiers, Clarenville’s leading scorer in the regular season. “I remember we went into the Aitken Centre (UNB’s home rink) on a Saturday on the last weekend of the regular season and we beat them (the Varsity Reds).
“They won their last game against UPEI and then they had a bye through the first round before they faced us in the playoffs. We beat them in three straight games and do you know what? In the four games that we beat them — the only games they lost that season — the score was 3-2 every time.”
The Caribous could certainly use a three-game run similar to the one Desrosiers and the X-Men pulled off against UNB in 2010 and they’ll get the opportunity this weekend, with the next three games of the Herder final set for Clarenville. Game 4 is 8 p.m. Saturday, with Game 5, if necessary, having a 2 p.m. start on Sunday.
So the Caribous should get a boost from a full crowd of faithful supporters, plus whatever advantage they can gain with having last change. And then there is the extra room in which they’ll have to operate after playing two games in the narrower confines of Joe Byrne Memorial Stadium in Grand Falls-Windsor.
“I’m not sure the exact difference in the dimensions at the Joe Byrne, but you definitely have an extra second to make a play (at the CEC).” said Desrosiers, a native of New Waterford, N.S., who now lives in St. John’s, where he teaches at St. John Bosco School in Shea Heights.
”It seemed (at the Joe) that as soon as you got the puck, they were right on top of you, no more than a stick length away.
“So we’re definitely looking forward to being at home. We hope having a little more room and a loud crowd behind us will make a difference.”
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But Desrosiers also knows that a full house of backers, last change and a wider rink will not be enough to make up for the Clarenville shortfalls that resulted in the Cataracts’ 5-1 and 4-2 victories in the first two games. What the Caribous require most of all, he said, is “more urgency” to their game.
“Complacency really cost us last weekend,” he said. “It seemed like we almost fell asleep for short bits of time, but those little moments cost us big. You just have to look at the box score.”
That was in reference to the two goals the Cataracts scored in a 63-second span in Game 1 and probably even more with regards to the three goals Grand Falls potted in a 3:18 stretch in the first period of Sunday’s 4-2 win.
“In the majority of the game Sunday, we showed that we certainly could play with them, but it was those brief periods where we lost that urgency that cost us,” asserted Desrosiers. “It was not bearing down on pucks, not chipping pucks in and chipping pucks out. It was getting caught standing still.
“If we move the puck, that means we get our feet moving and start wearing their D-men down. That could really play to our advantage.”
So could the series schedule. If the Caribous can get rolling at the CEC and makes the most out of home ice, just as the Cataracts did last weekend, it could set up an anything-can-happen finale next weekend in Grand Falls-Windsor, where Games 6 and 7 would be played.
But Desrosiers, who had 17 goals, and 20 assists in 24 regular-season games, has his forward vision set no further than 24-hours ahead.
“It may be cliche to say it, but it has to start with (tonight’s) game,” said the 30-year-old who has eight points (five goals and three assists) in seven outings during these playoffs.
“This is the biggest game of the year for us. If we’re going to get back in this series, it has to start with this one.
“Then the next one becomes the biggest game.”