After splitting the first two games of a playoff series, the St. Paul Canadiens and the Cold Lake Ice each had one win coming into tonight’s game, the first matchup at home for Cold Lake. Despite continuous offensive pressure, Canadiens goaltender Michael Davis proved too hot to handle, stopping 36 of 37 shots and leading the way for St. Paul to take back the series lead with a 3-1 win.
Alexander Astasiewicz opened the scoring for St. Paul in the eighth minute of the game with a perfect setup from veteran Canadien point-leaders Dyson Roy and Zach Bendall. Braydon Burak took a cross-checking minor later in the first period to give Cold Lake their first power play of the night. Scott Thackeray and the Ice’s special teams capitalized on the man-advantage opportunity, scoring their first and only goal of the night.
The second period was a rare scoreless twenty-minute frame that saw Cold Lake applying consistent offensive force, but the Ice were unable to get anything past Michael Davis, who was recently named NEAJBHL Rookie of the Year.
As it often does in Jr. B hockey, the third period got a bit rough. Tensions were high after Bendall finally broke the 1-1 deadlock with a power play goal coming off of a tripping penalty given to Jonah Henderson. After Bailey Lonsberry and Ethan Lacrocque received offsetting slashing penalties for St. Paul and Cold Lake respectively, a brawl broke out ending with bloodied fists and Lacrocque being ejected for the remainder of the night.
Cold Lake had a brilliant chance to tie the game back up on a power play with seven minutes remaining, but it wasn’t to be. Orrie Wood, who joined the Canadiens after the Saddle Lake Warriors’ season ended prematurely in February, scored the final tally for St. Paul on the empty net.
The tight game was essentially decided by goaltending, and Davis’ performance was a clear standout factor.
“Davis is definitely a really good goalie,” Cold Lake coach Scott Hood said after the game. “I mean, he’s rookie of the year for a reason. We’ve gotta get traffic in front of him, we’ve gotta crash the net, and we’ve gotta do everything we can to cause a little havoc. But we just need to regroup now and get ready for Game Four on Wednesday.”
Hood is confident in the skill of his team and is willing to accept hard work can often trump skill in playoff hockey:
“We’ve matched [St. Paul’s] work ethic for the last 120 minutes, and we’ve battled. That’s what we have to do. We have skill—maybe not high-end skill—but the guys work hard. I’m proud of the way they’ve played the last two games. We just need to bring the intensity going forward.”
Game Four will take place in Cold Lake on Wednesday, February 21 at 8:00 p.m.