YOUNG NATIONALS DOWN TROJANS, BOOK SEMIFINAL SPOT
THUNDER BAY, Ont. – Peter Stojcevski opened and closed the scoring for the Toronto Young Nationals, sending them into the semifinals at the 2019 TELUS Cup with a 4-2 win over the Tisdale Trojans in the final preliminary-round game for both Friday afternoon.
The Young Nationals are into the semifinals for the second year in a row; they will wait for the result of the Halifax-Calgary game later in the day to find out who and when they play on Saturday.
The Trojans, meanwhile, need a Calgary win or a tie to put them into the weekend.
Tisdale got the quick start it wanted when Trenton Curtis jumped on a juicy rebound in the slot at 8:37, but the Young Nationals would strike twice before the end of the first period.
Stojcevski tied it just past the midway mark, knocking in a backhand after Ryan Mansfield threw the puck on net, and Nick Enero scored on a floater from the blue-line that seemed to fool Tisdale goaltender Tanner Martin.
Joshua Sinanan extended the advantage to 3-1 early in the second period when he slipped a shot under the pad of Martin, but Jayden Wiens picked off a pass at the Toronto blue-line and beat Young Nationals netminder James Gray for a shorthanded marker only 2:15 later.
Stojcevski gave the GTHL champions a little breathing room in the final minute of the middle frame, popping the water bottle over the blocker of Martin to make it a 4-2 game after 40 minutes.
Gray was the story of the third period, making 20 of his 36 saves in the final stanza as the Trojans buzzed around the Toronto net looking to kick-start their comeback.
The win ensures a Central Region team will be part of the semifinals for the eighth year in a row and the 10th time in 12 years. Prior to Sudbury winning the national title in 2008, the first by the region, Central teams had qualified just three times in the previous decade.
BUFFALOES STRIKE EARLY, BEAT MACS TO CLINCH SEMIFINAL SPOT
THUNDER BAY, Ont. – Braden Plaschewsky, Justin Ross and Marco Lopez scored goals in the first 12 minutes, propelling the Calgary Buffaloes to a 5-2 win over the Halifax Macs on Friday and a spot in the semifinals at the 2019 TELUS Cup.
The victory means the Buffaloes will finish third in the preliminary round and sets up a semifinal match-up against the Toronto Young Nationals on Saturday afternoon (2 p.m. ET).
The win also clinches a playoff spot for the Tisdale Trojans, who will meet the Cantonniers de Magog in the second semifinal (6 p.m. ET).
Calgary had all but locked up a playoff spot before the puck dropped but didn’t leave anything to chance, taking the game to the Macs – who needed a victory to advance – in the first period.
Plaschewsky needed only 58 seconds to find the scoreboard, corralling a centring pass from Ryan Shostak and slipping a quick shot underneath Halifax goaltender Liam Oxner.
Ross doubled the lead at 9:44, jumping on a rebound in the slot and going over the glove of Oxner, and Lopez banged in a second chance just 83 seconds after that to put the Atlantic Region champions in a massive early hole.
Dylan James made it a four-goal game 69 seconds in the second period, jamming in a loose puck in the crease after a shot from Sam Witt squeezed through Oxner, giving the Pacific titlists even more of a cushion.
The Macs finally got to Calgary netminder Garin Bjorklund when Liam Keeping snapped in a quick shot on a late-period power play, but Halifax went to the dressing room down by three.
Zach Byard added another man-advantage marker eight minutes into the third, getting a blast from the point through a maze of bodies, but that would prove to be the final goal of the Macs’ season.
Oxner went to the bench with more than four minutes to go and Halifax needing three goals to advance. The Buffaloes took advantage, with Heath Armstrong finding the empty net to finish the scoring.
Both goaltenders were tremendous; Oxner finished with 37 saves, while Bjorklund stopped 29 of 31.
CANTONNIERS BLANK KINGS TO FINISH PERFECT PRELIMS
THUNDER BAY, Ont. – Xavier Dupont made 31 saves for the shutout and Zachary Barabé scored twice, giving the Cantonniers de Magog a 3-0 win over the Thunder Bay Kings in the preliminary-round finale Friday night at the 2019 TELUS Cup.
The Cantonniers closed out an unblemished prelims with their second shutout; they allowed just four goals in five games, the fewest since the Prince Albert Mintos gave up three en route to a national championship in 2014.
Magog will take on the Tisdale Trojans in the second semifinal Saturday (6 p.m. ET).
The Kings, who were eliminated from playoff contention Thursday, saw their season come to an end, but not before pushing the Cantonniers for the full 60 minutes.
It took just 72 seconds for Magog to open the scoring; Justin Robidas found Alexandre Doucet streaking to the net, and he went bar-down past the blocker of Kings goaltender Eric Vanska.
Robidas finished as the leading scorer in the preliminary round with nine points (four goals, five assists) in five games, two ahead of teammate Tristan Roy.
The 2-0 goal came at 12:19 of the second period thanks to the effort of Olivier Picard, who outworked a Thunder Bay defenceman behind the net before throwing a pass in front of the net for Barabé to bury for his first of the game.
He added his second five-and-a-half minutes into the final frame, parking himself in at the top of the crease and taking a short feed from Picard to deposit into an open net.
Dupont was at his best in the second period, making 14 saves as the Kings tried to get back into the game.
Magog finished with a 39-31 edge in shots on goal.
The Cantonniers are the 12th team since the start of the six-team format in 1984 to go 5-0 in the preliminary round. Of that group, only five ended up winning the gold medal (including Notre Dame last year).
“It was extremely important. The message from day one, and even before we got here, was ‘let’s worry about ourselves’. We never even looked at the scenarios, we just knew we had to win no matter what.
“We need to get our power play going. We’ve been struggling with it, and clearly we’re playing the best of the best out here, but our power play is one of the best assets we have and we haven’t had a chance to get it going yet.”
– Aaron Darmanin, co-head coach for the Toronto Young Nationals, on securing a spot in the semifinals and his team’s power play struggles
“We kind of let up after we got that first goal and they [Halifax] pushed hard. I thought we got a little too fancy at times. We didn’t keep it simple enough in the second period and that led to [Halifax] getting a few chances. Early in the third it was more of the same, but I thought in the last ten minutes we really did a good job of keeping it [the puck] out of our zone.”
– Brent Harrison, head coach for the Calgary Buffaloes, shares his thoughts on his team’s third win of the tournament
“We really prepared for the tournament like we were going to contend. It’s so close, margins are so small. If you look back on the week, this is the first time we weren’t tied or leading in the third. It could have been a different story if a couple shifts changed and went our way. We’ve said all year long it wasn’t about the results, it was about the effort. We thought if we played our type of game, if we continued working, if we never quit, then we’d have a chance to win more hockey games. When you’re playing the very best sometimes even when you play up to your capacity, you don’t get the results you want and that’s what happened this week.”
– Darrin Nicholas, head coach for the Thunder Bay Kings, reflects on the 2019 TELUS Cup
Final preliminary-round standings:
|1||Cantonniers de Magog||5||5||0||0||10|
|2||Toronto Young Nationals||5||3||2||0||6|
|6||Thunder Bay Kings||5||0||4||1||1|