Andrew Gale scored the tying and game-winning goals shorthanded and with the man advantage — and both came on backhand shots — as the Southern Shore Breakers drew first blood in provincial senior hockey’s Eastern Division final with a 4-2 win Sunday night.
At the Eastlink Events Centre in Clarenville, the Breakers outshot the homestanding Caribous 44-36 in the opening game of their best-of-seven divisional final.
The winner of the Caribous-Breakers series will meet the Grand Falls-Windsor Cataracts in the 2019 Herder Memorial Trophy Championship Series.
Blake Dalton opened scoring for the Breakers, and Jeremy Nicholas sealed the deal with an empty net goal.
The Caribous’ Dustin Russell scored the only goal of the first period. Brad Crann also scored for Clarenville.
Game 2 of the series goes 8 p.m. Wednesday at the Southern Shore Arena in Mobile.
The Breakers advanced to the East Coast final with a 6-2 win over the Conception Bay Blues Friday night. That semifinal went the full seven games.
Team captain Nicholas scored four goals for the Breakers at the C.B.S. Arena. The Blues actually owned a 2-1 lead midway through the contest courtesy of two second-period goals by Kyle Tibbo, but Nicholas tied it with his second of the night and Matthew Oates scored on a power play before the middle frame was done, giving the visiting Breakers a lead they would not relinquish.
Dalton had Southern Shore’s other goal.
Nicholas, whose fourth tally was an empty-netter, also had an assist for a five-point night. Oates added two assists, while Keenan Kennedy had three helpers for the winners.
Kris Hodge assisted on both of Tibbo’s goals for the Blues.
As for the Central Division final, it will be the fourth time in the last six years the Cataracts will play for the Herder.
The Cataracts downed the visiting Gander Kelly Ford Flyers 3-1 Saturday night at Joe Byrne Memorial Stadium to take the best-of-seven series 4-2.
Before a big home crowd, Danny Wicks, Sam Hounsell and Michael Cole scored as the Cataracts carried a 3-0 lead into the third period.
Jordan Escott had the Flyers’ goal.
The Cataracts won three straight Herders from 2014 to 2016, but didn’t make the provincial final the last two years.