© — Photo by Shawn Hayward/The Packet
The Clarenville Caribous' Keith Delaney (left) is checked by the Grand Falls-Windsor Cataracts' Luke Gallant during first period action in Game 3 of the Telegram Herder Memorial Trophy Championship Series Friday night at the Clarenville Events Centre. At right is the Cats' Andrew Brennan. Gallant scored three times and set up two more to lead his team to a 6-2 win and a 3-0 lead in the best-of-seven series. The Cataracts can clinch the title in Game 4 tonight, 8 p.m., in Clarenville.
Grand Falls-Windsor takes 3-0 stranglehold on Herder Memorial Trophy finals with 6-2 win over Clarenville in Game 3
The Clarenville Caribous are on the verge of being swept in the Telegram Herder Memorial Trophy Championship Series for the second straight year following a 6-2 loss to the Grand Falls-Windsor Cataracts in Game 3 Friday night at the Clarenville Events Centre.
“I thought we had a decent start and it seemed like guys were ready to play, but we had a few mental lapses against some of their top scorers and it killed us,” ‘Bous captain Dustin Russell told The Telegram after the loss. “It took all the momentum and drained us of our energy.
“No excuses, it was embarrassing to play a Herder game at home and have that outcome.”
The ‘Bous were in the same position this time last year against the eventual champion C.B.N. CeeBee Stars. Russell says he and his teammates have never dwelt on last year’s failure, and they won’t dwell on the hole they find themselves in heading into Game 4 on Saturday night (8 p.m.).
“We had a terrible game tonight and we’ll have to put it behind us like it never happened and come to the rink tomorrow twice as hard,” Russell said.
Cataracts coach Shane Lukinchuck said once his team found their legs and kicked their game into gear near the midway point of the first period, “it carried throughout the whole game.”
Even when the Caribous looked to be mounting a comeback after scoring to narrow the lead to a pair of goals on two occasions, the Cataracts’ quickly responded with markers of their own.
“If you get a goal scored on you, you need the right personnel to put out there and weather that storm. Go have a slow shift, dump the puck in, work the corners, work the walls, and get things going back in our favour a little bit,” the league’s coach of the year said.
“You certainly love when your guys do those things right and respond properly.”
Cataracts’ defenceman Luke Gallant had a whale of a game for the winners, scoring a hat trick and setting up two more for a five-point night.
“It was one of those night where I felt good in warm up and it carried over in the game,” Gallant explained. “When you have skilled guys on the team, it’s about trying to find the right spot to jump up on the play and make things happen without being out of position.”
Gallant figures his last hat trick probably came in his junior high school days and said, “It’s a pretty remarkable feeling to do it in Game 3, a pivotal game in the series.”
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Other goal scorers for the Cats were Cam Fergus with two and Andrew Brennan with a single. Regular season scoring champ Rob Hennigar had three assists.
The Caribous got their two goals from Ryan Desrosiers and Martin Lapointe.
Shots were 45-28 in favour of the Caribous, but the volume was not indicative of the quality.
“We’re getting a lot of shots, but they’re not a lot of quality shots,” lamented Russell. “(AJ) Whiffen’s a really good goalie, he’s proven that year-after-year, and he’s seeing the pucks and stopping them.”
At the other end of the ice, Jason Churchill allowed six goals and looked to be fighting the puck at times. Unless he goes down with an injury, the Caribous must stick with Churchill for the remainder of the series. Regular backup netminder Andrew Hurley is on the shelf with an injury, which means emergency backup Devin O’Brien of the Gander Flyers can only get in if Churchill can’t play.
“If there’s anyone I’m not worried about, it’s him,” Russell said. “He didn’t have his best game tonight, but he’s a very easy going guy and I’m sure he’ll bounce back with his A-game.”
Which is just what the Cataracts are expecting in a potential elimination game.
“You don’t want to let it slip away,” said Lukinchuk. “Any time you have a chance to eliminate your opponent, you want to do it the first opportunity you can.
“We’ve set ourselves up by play properly, I think we deserve to be where we are and if we continue to do the right things and play the way we have the first seven games of these playoffs the result should be the same tomorrow.”
A Game 5, if necessary, is scheduled for Sunday afternoon, 2 o’clock, in Clarenville.