Dundas Real McCoys could wrap up their senior AAA hockey playoff series with a win on Tuesday (April 5) in Norwood.
Dundas edged the Vipers 3-2 last Sunday night and took a 3-2 lead in the best-of-seven Major League Hockey John Ross Robertson Cup championship series in the JL Grightmire Arena. Twenty-four hours earlier at Norwood, the Vipers used a 3-2 score to tie the series after falling 4-3 at Dundas the previous night.
“It’s a home series so far, and Norwood is playing for keeps and making things tough for us. It’s been a whale of a series so far,” opined Dundas general manager Don Robertson. “They have a style they play that I’m not fond of, but that’s what they do. They (Norwood) just keep hacking and working and our guys have been up to the challenge.”
“It was great to see (Bryan) Worosz step up Sunday night with a big game with (Jeff) Maund being away. The goaltending in the series has been excellent on both sides. Our veterans have been playing well, and are not being intimidated by the Vipers. It has been a lot of hockey in a short time frame for them.”
Game seven, if necessary, will be played in Grightmire Arena on Thursday night (April 7). Both matches are scheduled to start at 8 p.m. Norwood has been a sell out in every game of the final at home.
As Maund had been last Friday, Worosz was the star of the show in the second period on Sunday. Mark Cranley of the Vipers tried to break a 1-1 tie with a high shot on Worosz early in the second, but the netminder was equal to the task. With 7:43 left, Chris Johnston rifled a shot off the crossbar as he desperately attempted to beat the netminder before penalty time ran out. There were 27 seconds left in the major penalty to Steve Hurst.
Matt Smith gave Dundas the lead with 32 seconds left in the period. Johnston tied things up 18 seconds into the final frame only to have the McCoys throw a massive blanket over the Vipers. Dundas outshot Norwood, 27-7, in the third period and 54-34 in the game. Rob DeCiantis got the game winner at the 4:53 mark. TJ Sakaluk had the other goal while Adrian Wilson replied for Norwood.
On Saturday at Norwood, the Vipers scored twice in the second period to edge the McCoys 3-2, as both teams appeared to drift through a goalless third. Of interest, is the fact that in the past two games there have been 23 powerplay opportunities (Dundas 12 and Norwood 11) without a goal.
Last Friday at Dundas, goalkeeper Maund’s standout performance carried Dundas to victory and a 2-1 lead in the series. Like last Sunday, the outcome was a nail biter. In both games in the Grightmire, the second period told the tale.
Six minutes into the middle period, the Vipers’ Johnston was stopped cold by Maund on a breakaway from the blueline and was beaten again with 7:44 left in the frame. Then with less than four minutes remaining Joe Curry drilled a shot to the top corner only to have Maund snare the drive.
Maund capped the period by grabbing a bouncing puck after Dundas had lost it. He beat two Norwood players to the puck and ended the threat with about 2:30 left in the second. A miss on any one of those plays would have driven a nail in the Dundas coffin.
At Norwood on Saturday, Dundas led 2-1 after one, but the Vipers followed up with a pair of second period goals in a relatively quiet affair. Darren Doherty, Murray Free, and Dave Stewart scored for Norwood with Cam Watson and Ryan Christie netting the McCoys goals.
Last Friday in the Grightmire Arena, Mike Kennedy scored on a powerplay with Justin Davis, Sakaluk, and Christie adding even strength goals. Johnston with a pair of goals scored for Norwood with Mark Prentice adding the other.