Deven Culford scored a pair of 3rd period goals and Colton van Maarion made 37 stops as the Vermilion Tigers ousted the Cold Lake Ice on home ice with 4-3 victory, advancing to the second round of the NEAJBHL playoffs.
The Ice had gotten a goal from Scott Thackeray to tie the game one apiece at the first intermission, before markers from Daytona Houle and Brant Rosychuk put Cold Lake ahead 3-2 in the second intermission.
Evan Cooke had a pair of helpers for Vermilion’s 3rd period comeback effort from the stick of Culford, who finished the series with 7 points.
The series ended in five games with four of those decided by just one goal.
“Excellent series from both teams. Both teams fought hard. Every game was close. We were lucky enough to pull out the win tonight,” said Tigers coach Ryan Earl after the game, who also touched on the team’s veteran 21-year-olds as taking charge, including Culford, Caius Quist, Cody Jackson and Cody O’Hare.
“They’ve been leading the way all the way through. You can’t ask anymore from them on and off the ice.”
The Tigers won all three games on home ice (Game 1, 4, and 5) and will now see the first-place Wainwright Bisons in the second round.
“We played the Bisons tough all year. We snuck out a couple wins throughout the season. It’s going to be hard-fought. It will be another good series,” said Earl.
The Tigers’ Connor Roscue had a season-high 8 points throughout the series with 2 goals and 6 assists. Landon Petiot also fired home 4 goals in the 5 games.
Cold Lake will say goodbye to veterans with the defeat, including Scott Thackeray, Dustin Johnston-Watson, Elijah Brown and Devon McCormack who played key roles for the team throughout the season.
Ryan Earl before the series kicked off was named the NEAJBHL’s Coach of the Year was asked about it what meant after the game.
“It feels good. The boys really came through and most of it goes to them. It’s nice for the little bit of recognition, but it’s a team game,” he said.
St. Paul fresh off bye will take on Killam
Meanwhile, the Killam Wheat Kings made short work of the Lloydminster Bandits in a four-game sweep in the NEAJBHL’s other quarterfinal matchup.
That means the St. Paul Canadiens, who finished 2nd overall in the regular season standings with a record of 24-7-3, will host Killam for the semi-finals beginning on Thursday night at 8:00pm.
The Canadiens’ forward Nicolas Beaudoin also received a league honour, being named the NEAJBHL Rookie of the Year. Beaudoin put up 16 goals and 21 assists while also playing 17 games as an affiliate with the Bonnyville Pontiacs.
St. Paul hosts Game 1 and 2 of the series.