Just like the St. John’s Maple Leafs in their first year of operation way back in 1992, the Newfoundland Growlers are going to the league championship final in their first year.
The expansion Growlers shut out the Florida Everblades for the second straight game Saturday to win the Eastern Conference championship and punch their ticket to the Kelly Cup final against either the Tulsa Oilers or Toledo Walleye.
Those teams were tied 2-2 in the Western Conference final entering Game 5 Saturday night.
At Mile One Centre Saturday evening, before 4,213 fans, Michael Garteig posted his second straight shutout with a 36-save performance as the Growlers blanked the Everblades 3-0 to win the best-of-seven conference final 4-1.
Florida was the top team in the East during the regular season with 106 points, four fewer than league-leading Cincinnati Cyclones, who were knocked out in the second round of the playoffs. The Growlers were second in the East during the regular season.
Scott Pooley opened scoring with the only goal of the second period, his seventh in the post season.
Hudson Elynuik and Giorgio Estephan added insurance markers in the third.
Oddly enough, only one penalty was called in the series, an interference minor to Florida’s Joe Cox in the first period.
The Growlers have home ice advantage in the Kelly Cup final, which starts Saturday at 7 p.m. at Mile One. Game 2 is 7 p.m. Sunday.