Fly­ers back in Gan­der

Game five could clinch fi­nals this Fri­day in Gan­der

The Beacon (Gander) - - Front page - BY JONATHAN PAR­SONS Jonathan.par­sons@thep­acket.ca Twit­ter: @je­j­par­sons

Clarenville leads se­nior hockey se­ries

CLARENVILLE, NL — It was a rough week­end for the Gan­der Fly­ers, los­ing games three and four to the Cari­bous in Cen­tral West Se­nior Hockey League (CWSHL) play­off fi­nals.

As close as the games were, Clarenville came away with two hard-fought vic­to­ries on home ice at the Eastlink Events Cen­tre (EEC).

The thrilling con­tests saw the Cari­bous take a 3-1 se­ries lead over their ri­vals be­fore head­ing back to Gan­der this week­end.

Fly­ers’ head coach Rick Shep­pard says while he’s dis­ap­pointed with the re­sult of games three and four, he’s never been dis­ap­pointed with the play on the ice and his play­ers’ ef­fort.

“Our team is all heart and soul,” he said in an in­ter­view with the Packet. “We’ve had a lot of good things hap­pen this year … for the most part, I’m dis­ap­pointed with the loss but al­ways proud of my team.”

Shep­pard adds the team prob­a­bly played a bet­ter game on Satur­day night com­pared to Sun­day’s game four, say­ing a 3-0 lead is “the worst lead in hockey.”

“Clarenville are a pa­tient team and they cap­i­tal­ize on our mis­takes a lot of the time … We lost a lit­tle con­trol through the mid­dle of the ice,” he says. “For the ef­fort that we put in and the way our team plays, I’m very im­pressed.”

Shep­pard says af­ter com­ing so far this year, his mes­sage of pos­i­tiv­ity is still on the fore­front of the team’s minds as the se­ries is cer­tainly not over yet.

“They’ve still got to win one more and we’ve got to win three … We still have faith.”

In Satur­day’s game three, the first two pe­ri­ods ended in a score­less draw as each team vied for the open­ing goal in the piv­otal matchup.

Only min­utes into the third pe­riod, Clarenville seized the op­por­tu­nity on a goal by Keith De­laney. The home team added to its lead on the power play as Kevin Reid scored.

The Fly­ers kept pace, scor­ing min­utes later, but Kevin Reid added an­other for the Cari­bous — his sec­ond of the game — putting his team up 3-1 with 6:50 re­main­ing.

With time tick­ing away, Gan­der pulled within a goal when An­drew Ryan scored with 3:27 left on the clock.

From there, the ‘Bous were able to hold off the Fly­ers and hang on to the 3-2 vic­tory. Both teams fin­ished with 22 shots on goal in game three.

Game four was also close and the Fly­ers came out with a big lead to the be­gin the epic game.

Min­utes into the first pe­riod of game four on Sun­day af­ter­noon, the Fly­ers thought they had taken a 1-0 on the power play af­ter a Justin Pen­der penalty for in­ter­fer­ence, but the goal was dis­al­lowed be­cause the net was off its moor­ings be­fore the puck was buried in the top cor­ner.

The score re­mained 0-0 for all of sev­eral sec­onds as Gan­der’s Josh Fitzger­ald fin­ished a pass­ing play while still on the man­ad­van­tage.

The Fly­ers con­tin­ued to dom­i­nate the play with an ex­tra at­tacker over the rest of the pe­riod, adding an­other power play marker when Brett Shute scored about five min­utes later to take a 2-0 lead.

There was a scary mo­ment fol­low­ing the goal as Cari­bous’ stand­out Kevin Reid took a hard hit and re­mained on the ice for sev­eral sec­onds. While he stayed on the bench in the min­utes fol­low­ing the spill, Reid didn’t play for the rest of the game. There was no penalty on the play.

Min­utes later, Pen­der grabbed Shute and pum­meled him while of­fi­cials tried in vain to split the two up. Both play­ers re­ceived off­set­ting rough­ing penal­ties, while Pen­der was given an ex­tra two min­utes for un­sports­man­like con­duct, served by Rod Ma­honey.

In their third power play of the open­ing frame, the Fly­ers found the back of the net once again. This time, Thomas Hedges scored for the vis­i­tors, mak­ing the deficit 3-0 for Clarenville.

And with just over two min­utes re­main­ing in the first, Ryan De­laney was pe­nal­ized for both a slash­ing and cross-check­ing in­frac­tion, to­tal­ing an­other four min­utes in the box for the home side.

To be­gin the sec­ond, Cari­bous’ goal­tender Ja­son Churchill re­placed Tyler Whiffen — who had ini­tially been given the start to the game. The ‘Bous be­gan a run that would see them re­verse their for­tunes in the hopes of sal­vaging the game and se­ries.

Once they killed the penalty, Clarenville pot­ted its first goal of the game off a juicy re­bound past Fly­ers’ goalie Doug Pippy — scored by Keith De­laney and as­sisted by Pen­der and Ryan Des­rosiers.

Ryan De­laney pulled the ‘Bous within one goal as he stick­han­dled his way on a rush, fir­ing a shot home much to the de­light of an en­er­gized crowd.

The home fans bat­tled quite a few Gan­der sup­port­ers through­out the af­ter­noon with du­el­ing “Go ‘Bous, go!” and “Go Fly­ers, go!” chants. But with the score still 3-2, the vis­it­ing spec­ta­tors were drowned out by the home faith­ful as the Cari­bous fought hard for the ty­ing marker.

The crowd was qui­eted once again about half­way through the sec­ond when ‘Bous for­ward Chris Sparkes was called for trip­ping, but the EEC erupted as Ryan De­laney scored his sec­ond goal of the game on a short­handed break­away to even the game.

If the ty­ing goal’s re­ac­tion was loud, the arena be­came unglued when, af­ter killing the penalty, Ma­son Reid scored to take a 4-3 lead.

Fans taunted the Fly­ers’ goalie with calls of “Pippy, Pippy…” af­ter the net­min­der al­lowed four goals in just over 10 min­utes of play.

While Gan­der coach Rick Shep­pard called a time­out to set­tle his team, the Cari­bous con­tin­ued the mo­men­tum, scor­ing again on a break­away — this time Des­rosiers — to take a twogoal lead, 5-3.

Be­fore the end of the sec­ond, the Fly­ers showed life as Jor­dan Es­cott scored to make the game 5-4 head­ing into the fi­nal and de­cid­ing pe­riod.

Cari­bou for­ward Kenny Ma­honey opened the scor­ing in the third, ex­tend­ing the Clarenville lead to 6-4.

From there, Clarenville bled the clock to hold on and se­cure the win de­spite a dis­al­lowed break­away goal due to a hook­ing call on the Cari­bous late in the game.

Ryan De­laney com­pleted his hat trick with an empty-net­ter, mak­ing the fi­nal 7-4.

This up­com­ing week­end, the se­ries will con­clude with at least one, but pos­si­bly as many as three more games. Game five will be in Gan­der on Fri­day night and game six — if nec­es­sary — will re­turn to Clarenville. If the se­ries needs a game seven, the two teams will play in Gan­der on Sun­day af­ter­noon.

JONATHAN PAR­SONS PHO­TOS

It looked like Flyer An­drew Ryan roofed the puck on the power play past goalie Tyler Whiffen, but of­fi­cials waved off the goal.

This scrum re­sulted in an­other power play for the Fly­ers and a chance to score their third goal.

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