Grand Falls-Windsor Cataracts centre Andre Gill gets away a shot at St. John’s Caps goaltender Kyle Downer (left) in Game 2 of the Herder Memorial Trophy provincial senior hockey championship Sunday afternoon at Joe Byrne Memorial Stadium in Grand Falls-Windsor. Caps’ defenceman Dylan Shledon looks on. It was one of 53 shots the Cataracts’ sent Downer’s way in a 7-3 win. Two-time defending Herder champion Grand Falls-Windsor leads the best-of-five final 2-0, with the remainder of the series to be played next weekend in Torbay.
©Kenn Oliver/The Telegram
The Grand Falls-Windsor Cataracts are on the cusp of a third straight Herder Memorial Trophy championship after taking the first two games of the best-of-five 2016 provincial senior hockey final from the visiting St. John’s Toyota Plaza Caps over the weekend.
After a decisive 6-0 win in the series opener Saturday night at Joe Byrne Memorial Stadium, the Cataracts returned on Sunday afternoon to collect a 7-3 win in Game 2.
While it was not the result the Caps hoped for Sunday, there was a lot more push back from the Avalon East Senior Hockey League champs in the rematch.
“I think we gave them a little too much respect in last night’s game,” suggested Bobby Squires, who, after being a healthy scratch in Game 1, found his way into the St. John’s lineup Sunday and delivered a pair of goals.
“Today, we started off a little better skating with them, trying to get into the game early on.”
The Caps came out hard and fast in Game 2, playing a physical brand of hockey that was sorely lacking in Game 1.
“At first, it seemed like it was working fine and (the Cataracts) were kind of out of sorts for a little bit and just going with two lines,” said St. John’s captain Mike Druken.
Unfortunately for St. John’s, the Cataracts responded in kind and started to pull away near the midway point of the second.
“We got a bad call, I think, and they scored on the power play, and then they scored again,” recounted Druken. “When it was 4-2, it was hard to come back, especially against a team with a lot of depth like that.”
The Cataracts weren’t surprised with the better effort from the Caps on Sunday.
“They have some quality players over there. They’ve got guys who work hard and finish their checks,” said Grand Falls-Windsor defenceman Luke Gallant. “We expected them to rebound and we expect an even better game out of them Friday (in Game 3 in Torbay).”
As for the Central West Senior Hockey League champions, Gallant believes the Cataracts brought a more complete 60-minute effort on Sunday.
“We've got some things to work on, and Friday will be a good test because, obviously, we've got a big weekend coming up after that,” said Gallant, referring to the Atlantic region best-of-three Allan Cup playdowns against New Brunswick’s Lamèque Au P'tit Mousse set for Grand Falls-Windsor in early April.
“We're trying to focus on the Herder, but at the same time, we can't get any bad habits right now. Today, it was closer than what the scoreboard did say at the end of the game, (but) I think today brought a lot of good habits back into our game in comparison to last night.”
Unlike Game 1, where just four penalties were called and no power-play goals were scored, Game 2 saw a bevy of calls, resulting in four man-advantage markers — three for the Cataracts. There were also two shorthanded tallies — one by each team.
“(All the penalties) take away your momentum and flow. It broke us up,” says Cataracts’ coach Tom Coolen. “Our penalty killers had to be overplayed. It cuts into your game and played into their hands, for sure. Hopefully that's something we can avoid on Friday.”
Puck drop in Game 3 on Good Friday is 7:30 p.m. at Jack Byrne Arena. Games 4 and 5, if necessary, will also be played in Torbay on Saturday (7:30 p.m.) and Easter Sunday (1:30 p.m.).