LONG SAULT – With a spot in the EOSSAA championships on the line, the Seaway Spartans varsity boys hockey team faced off against county rivals, the Char-Lan Crusaders in the playoff semi-finals February 28th at the Long Sault arena.
Char-Lan took control of the puck from the opening face-off, heading into Seaway’s end. A pass in front of the net by Char-Lan forward Shane McFarlane found linemate Riley MacDonald’s stick in front of Seaway’s net. MacDonald’s one-timer beat Seaway goalie Wes Alexander 41 seconds into the first period, Char-Lan led 1-0. Six minutes later, Nathaniel Faubert scored on Alexander to give Char-Lan the 2-0 lead.
With two-and-a-half left in the first, Faubert’s pass deep into Seaway’s end found Riley MacDonald, who scored his second of the game. Char-Lan led Seaway 3-0 after the first period.
Seaway coaches Carrie Gilmour and Henry Looyen rallied the troops, who shot back with four unanswered goals in the second period.
A minute into the second period, a play by Spartan forward Randy Keller set up Griffin Patterson, who sent the puck clean into Char-Lan’s net, cutting the Crusaders’ lead to two.
Keller and Patterson teamed up for another play four minutes into the second, Char-Lan led 3-2.
A check to the head by Char-Lan put Seaway on a two-minute powerplay with 6:17 to go in the second period.
Seaway took charge with Patterson, Cal Bilmer and Adam Lapier heading deep into Char-Lan’s end past the blue line. A cross-ice pass from Bilmer to Lapier found the net, tying the game at three-apiece. Two minutes later, a quick pass on the line from Jean-Guy Khronstal was buried by Colin Minish, Seaway took the lead 4-3. The goal chasing Char-Lan’s starting goalie from the net.
Both teams started off sluggish in the third period, sending shots off point and wide of the net both ways. Seaway forward Randy Keller drew a tripping penalty halfway through the third putting Char-Lan on the power play. Quick line changes by Seaway kept fresh players on the ice while Alexander stopped seven shots in quick succession, including one through the five-hole, off the inside of his left leg pad, and out of danger.
Char-Lan called a time-out with 2:40 left in the game. A quick regroup led to Crusaders’ forward Landon Fraser tying the game up with 2:24 left on the clock.
A minute-ten later, Riley Leroux’s slapshot to the right of Alexander put Char-Lan back in the lead 5-4.
Seaway pulled their goalie for the extra man. Despite firing six shots at Char-Lan in the final 30 seconds of the game, the Crusaders held on to win, moving on to the finals against St. Joe’s. Final score, Char-Lan Crusaders 5, Seaway Spartans 4.
“I’m quite happy with the way the boys played today,” said Coach Carrie Gilmour. “They played their best this season, especially in discipline. They only took one penalty the entire game, it showed in how they played.”