Turn in energetic effort against league-leading Cats, but lose 5-3
© Photo by Terry Roberts/The Compass
Robert Slaney of the CeeBee Stars (centre) had many scoring chances during Friday's senior hockey tilt with the visiting Grand Falls-Windsor Cataracts. At left is Cats tender A. J. Whiffin, while defenceman Marty LaPointe is seen trying to thwart Slaney's shot on net.
HARBOUR GRACE — The CeeBee Stars played a full game of hard-charging, intelligent hockey on Friday night, but it was not enough to solve the league-leading Grand Falls-Windsor Cataracts.
The high-flying Cats (14-1-0) defeated the snakebitten CeeBees (5-9-0) by a score of 5-3 during the first of a two-game weekend set at the S. W. Moores Memorial Stadium, with some 750 fans on hand to witness what was an entertaining, high-energy affair.
Game 2 is slated for Saturday (Jan. 5) at 7:30 p.m., and is yet another critical game for the CeeBees as the battle heats up for the fourth and final playoff spot.
The Stars went toe-to-toe with their formidable opponents for the entire game on Friday, with Grand Falls finishing with a 39-31 edge in shots on goal.
Three of the Cats’ goals came on a redirected puck from in close, with no chance for CeeBees keeper Mark Yetman, who played a strong game. His counterpart at the other end of the ice, A. J. Whiffen, was equally impressive in goal for the Cats.
The Stars opened the scoring six minutes into the contest when Ryan Delaney found the back of the net with a quick shot, finishing off a nice break-out play started by fleet-footed defenceman Mike Dyke.
The score remained unchanged for the next 10 minutes, as both sides battled back and forth.
The Cats finally pounced on the power play at the 14:25 mark when Luke Gallant made a smart play at the blueline to maintain possession, and then blasted a shot that beat Yetman low and between the legs.
With time winding down in the opening stanza, the Cats took the lead after a puck deflected off a defenders’ skate and found the back of the net. The goal was credited to Matt Quinn.
The CeeBees again came out strong in the middle frame, and tied the game at 11:29 when Robert Slaney deflected a shot off the stick of Nick Theriault and into the net.
The CeeBees regained the lead five minutes later when Jordan Escott blasted a rising slapshot from the point that eluded Whiffen.
Both CeeBee goals came on the power play, with speedy forward Jason Hedges picking up helpers on both markers.
The Cats failed to record a goal in the second period, despite sending 15 quality shots at Yetman.
But the third period was a different story.
The Cats knotted the game 3-3 at 8:27 on a slick deflection by Andre Gill off a point shot by Mike Brent.
The visitors then took the lead less than three minutes later when Brent got his stick on a shot from the point by Brandon Nicholas.
The CeeBees dominated puck possession in the waning minutes, and came up short on a handful of glorious scoring chances. Whiffen and his defence put up a wall that would not be broken.
Marty LaPointe sealed the game for the Cats with an empty netter just before the buzzer sounded.
CeeBees coach Corey Crocker said he was pleased with his team’s effort, calling it “one of our better efforts.”