Cor­vairs sweep into Golden Horse­shoe fi­nal

De­fend­ing champ Cale­do­nia will play Fal­cons-Canucks winner in GHC fi­nal

The Niagara Falls Review - - SPORTS - BERND FRANKE BFranke@post­media.com

Never mind all that sweep­ing, the sport we’re talk­ing about is hockey, not curl­ing.

Given that all but one of the first four play­off se­ries in the Greater On­tario Ju­nior Hockey League’s Golden Horse­shoe Con­fer­ence have been de­cided in four-game sweeps, the con­fu­sion is un­der­stand­able, how­ever.

Lat­est team to find it­self en­ter­ing the off-sea­son on the los­ing end of a boom is the An­caster Avalanche. Af­ter need­ing only five games to dis­patch the fifth-seeded Fort Erie Me­te­ors to the side­lines in the quar­ter-fi­nals, the No. 4 seed Avalanche quickly found out they would be no match for the Cale­do­nia Cor­vairs, the reg­u­lar-sea­son con­fer­ence cham­pi­ons and the top seed over­all in the 27-team south­ern On­tario ju­nior B league.

Cale­do­nia, com­ing off a firstround bye and seek­ing to cap­ture the Suther­land Cup for the fourth year in a row, outscored the Avalanche by a com­bined score of 14-3 to jump out to a 2-0 lead in the be­stof-seven semi­fi­nal se­ries. Games 3 and 4 on the week­end were much closer, but the Cor­vairs nonethe­less pre­vailed tak­ing a 4-1 de­ci­sion at home Satur­day and scor­ing a 3-1 vic­tory on the road the fol­low­ing night to com­plete the sweep.

Pac­ing Cale­do­nia on of­fence Sun­day were Ed­die Schulz, with two goals, the first on the power play, the se­cond into an empty net; and Adam Craievich. Adam Mei­jer replied for the Avalanche who were out­shot 32-28 and bowed out of the play­offs with a loss in the se­cond round for the third year in a row.

Trent Mal­lette, on a penalty shot; Craievich and Schulz scored for the Cor­vairs in Game 3. Zach Bramwell, on the power play; found the back of the net for An­caster.

Shots in Satur­day night’s game favoured Cale­do­nia by a 32-21 mar­gin.

The Cor­vairs went 2-for-7 on the power play; the Avalanche, 1-for8. Cale­do­nia will play the winner of the No. 2-No. 3 matchup – St. Catharines Fal­cons ver­sus Ni­a­gara Falls – in a best-of-seven fi­nal to de­ter­mine the con­fer­ence’s rep­re­sen­ta­tive in the Suther­land Cup tour­na­ment. The Fal­cons lead the Canucks 2-0 head­ing into Game 3 Tues­day night at Jack Gate­cliff Arena in St. Catharines.

Un­like An­caster, the Fal­cons and the Canucks went un­de­feated in the open­ing round of the play­offs. St. Catharines swept the sev­enth-seeded Pel­ham Pan­thers in the quar­ter­fi­nals, while Ni­a­gara Falls made quick work of the Wel­land Ju­nior Cana­di­ans, the No. 6 seed.

The ninth-place Buf­falo Re­gals did not make the play­offs in the Golden Horse­shoe Con­fer­ence, nor did the Thorold Black­hawks. Thorold was sus­pended by the league with two weeks re­main­ing in reg­u­lar sea­son due to a short­age of play­ers.

In or­der to have a fi­nal four emerg­ing from an ini­tial play­off field of seven teams, Cale­do­nia was awarded a first-round bye.

Higher seeds also lived up to their billing in the open­ing round of post­sea­son play in the Mid­west­ern and Western con­fer­ence, with four of the eight quar­ter-fi­nals com­pleted in the four-game min­i­mum.

Mid­west­ern teams ad­vanc­ing to the se­cond round, with seed­ing in brack­ets; are (1) Lis­towel Cy­clone over (8) Brant­ford 99ers, 4-0; (2) Elmira Sugar Kings over (7) Guelph Hur­ri­canes, 4-0; (3) Kitch­ener Dutch­men over (6) Strat­ford Cul­li­tons, 4-1; and (4) Water­loo Siskins over (5) Cam­bridge Win­ter­hawks, 4-2.

Mak­ing up the Western Con­fer­ence fi­nal four are (1) LaSalle Vipers ver­sus (8) Strathroy Rock­ets, 4-0; (2) Chatham Ma­roons ver­sus (7) St. Thomas Stars, 4-0; (3) London Na­tion­als ver­sus (6) St. Marys Lin­colns, 4-1; and (4) Leam­ing­ton Fly­ers ver­sus (5) Sar­nia Le­gion­naires, 4-2.

Last year London and Strat­ford won their re­spec­tive di­vi­sions and, along with with wild card Water­loo, the non-con­fer­ence cham­pion with the best play­off record, com­peted with Cale­do­nia in the Suther­land Cup tour­na­ment. The Cor­vairs swept London to take the ti­tle.

With Cale­do­nia re­ceiv­ing a bye and a berth in the semi­fi­nals, firstround re­sults will not be in­cluded in de­ter­min­ing the tour­na­ment wild card this sea­son.

St. Catharines won its first Suther­land Cup in 2012, while Ni­a­gara Falls won it all in 1996 and again two years later.

To date the Thorold Black­hawks, in 2005; and the Port Col­borne Re­cre­ation­ists, in 1943; are the only other teams from Ni­a­gara to win a tro­phy that, since it was first pre­sented in 1934, is an­nu­ally awarded to the pro­vin­cial ju­nior B cham­pion.

There is no na­tional cham­pi­onship for ju­nior B hockey in Canada.

JULIE JOCSAK/POST­MEDIA NET­WORK

Cale­do­nia Cor­vairs' Zachary Core, fore­ground, and St. Catharines Fal­cons' Mitchell Webb bat­tle for the puck in this Novem­ber 2016 file photo. Cale­do­nia com­pleted a sweep of the An­caster Avalanche on the week­end to ad­vance to the Greater On­tario Ju­nior Hockey League Golden Horse­hoe Con­fer­ence fi­nals.

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