Sea­son ends for Blades

Blades fall to Com­bines last week­end

Advertiser (Grand Falls) - - Front Page - BY KRYSTA CAR­ROLL krys28@hot­

GRAND FALLS-WIND­SOR, NL – After fall­ing twice to the Com­bines last week­end, the Blades needed a win at home Fri­day night – but that win didn’t come.

The Twill­ingate Com­bines took round one of the Cen­tral New­found­land Se­nior In­ter­me­di­ate Hockey League play­offs in three straight games.

After 6-2 and 6-4 (with an empty net­ter) wins at home last week­end, the Com­bines swept the Cats 7-4 Fri­day night at Wind­sor Sta­dium – a dev­as­tat­ing night to say the least, said Blades cap­tain Justin Hol­loway.

“We never had our best ef­fort,” he said. “The last four week­ends we worked re­ally hard, but we just never got the re­sults that we hoped for.”

As for Fri­day night, Hol­loway said the Com­bines came with an emer­gency goal­tender who hasn’t played in the league all year, but the Blades were a lit­tle hes­i­tant with shots, so it didn’t work in their favour.

“We didn’t play that well,” he said. “We didn’t put the pucks in the net. Most of our shots were from the out­side.

“One thing Twill­ingate does well is block shots. They’ll take a puck in the face for this game. That’s what they do. A lot of our good chances they blocked it so their goalie never had to (face them).”

The Com­bines got on the board early with a goal from John Hull. Ja­son Saun­ders re­cip­ro­cated with a pass from An­drew Lit­tle less than two min­utes later.

Josh May and Kris­tian Green­ham put the Com­bines up by two. Hull and Alex Gill picked up the as­sists.

Near­ing the end of the first pe­riod Neil Oake scored two quick goals to tie the game head­ing into the sec­ond. Lit­tle, Saun­ders and David Burke picked up points for the as­sists.

Just un­der two and a half min­utes into the sec­ond PJ Loder gave the Blades their first lead of the game. Burke picked up an­other as­sist.

That would end scor­ing for the Blades as the Com­bines went on to three in the sec­ond and one in the third. Goals came from May, Kirk Stock­ley, Nathan Hull and Gill.

“We’re a sec­ond-half team usu­ally,” Hol­loway said. “We never played so well in the third pe­riod.”

He said the last of the first and the sec­ond they came back and showed a lot of char­ac­ter but they phased out in the third.

“They got the lead and we just couldn’t re­build it,” he said.

Fans in the stands

Twill­ingate not only brought their game, they brought their fans.

“We get prob­a­bly 250 fans in a week­end for two games,” Hol­loway said. “They’ll fill their arena.”

Com­bines coach Ste­wart Froude said the team re­ceives a lot of sup­port from their fans.

“Our fans al­ways fol­low us wher­ever we go,” Froude said right after Fri­day night’s game. “Back home tonight we would prob­a­bly have 600 fans in our sta­dium and we prob­a­bly brought 100 here tonight. When you got your fans be­hind you sup­port­ing you it brings the play­ers up a lot more, when you’re on the road es­pe­cially.”

Stand­ing right out­side the dress­ing room after their big win, he said the team was feel­ing great about the hard ef­fort.

“They are feel­ing how they played be­cause they are play­ing what we talk about all the time,” Froude said. “When you play that way, you feel a lot bet­ter when you do win.”

He said Mor­gan Baggs re­ally stepped up for the team after their goalie tore up his knee and their al­ter­nate was away on va­ca­tion.

“Mor­gan is a guy who played with me many moons ago back with the old Com­bines,” Froude said. “For sure he’s happy in there.”

The coach’s thoughts on the game were to the point.

“I’m just ex­cited that we won,” he said, adding he was wait­ing to see the out­come of the se­ries be­tween the Spring­dale Braves and North­east Sabres, in which the Braves were up two games after ac­tion Feb. 17-18.

“I’m kind of hop­ing Spring­dale pulls it out be­cause we’ll get a home-ice ad­van­tage,” Froude said. “Who­ever comes out is go­ing to be tough but we just have to play what we preach all year and if they do that we’re OK.”

His wishes came true as the Braves de­feated the Sabres 5-2 Sat­ur­day night in Spring­dale.

The Com­bines will face the Braves in the fi­nals start­ing this week­end.

On­ward and up­ward

As for the Blades, their sea­son is over but they are al­ready look­ing for­ward to next year.

“Ev­ery year we are get­ting the same core but we got 10 new play­ers ev­ery year so it’s hard to build chem­istry,” Hol­loway said. “This is the first year we’ve had so many guys that are prob­a­bly go­ing to be around next year so hope­fully this is lead­ing up to a bet­ter year next year.”

The Town of Grand Fall­sWind­sor came on board this sea­son as well, which was a plus for the team, Hol­loway said.

“They stepped up this year and spon­sored us quite a bit,” he said. “We got a new set of jer­seys and cut some of our costs for our home games. It’s set­ting us up good for next year.”

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Craig Mut­ford of the Twill­ingate Com­bines at­tempts to block a shot by Grand Falls-Wind­sor Blades player Ja­son Saun­ders dur­ing first-pe­riod ac­tion at Wind­sor Sta­dium Fri­day night. It was game three of round-one play­offs of the Cen­tral New­found­land Se­nior In­ter­me­di­ate Hockey League.


Mor­gan Baggs stepped up be­tween the pipes for the Twill­ingate Com­bines while one goalie was in­jured and the other was away.


Grand Falls-Wind­sor Blades’ Tyler Tay­lor eas­ily makes the save.

Blades’ Matt Lavelle and Com­bine’s John Hull race for the puck.

Matt Lavelle of the Blades des­per­ately at­tempts to get the puck to­wards the net dur­ing a do-or-die match-up against the Com­bines Fri­day night at Wind­sor Sta­dium.

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