HARBOUR GRACE — An offensive dynamo with the Grand Falls-Windsor Cataracts had his way with the CeeBee Stars Saturday night as Andre Gill potted a hat trick to lead his club to a 5-3 win over the hosts in provincial senior hockey league action.
The win capped off a weekend sweep for the Cataracts, which recorded an identical 5-3 win in Game 1 on Friday night. Gill also had a hand in that victory, recording a goal and an assist.
Gill now has 16 goals in 16 games, making him the league’s most dangerous offensive threat right now, and he is a major factor in the outstanding record (15-1-0) the Cats have compiled to his point in the season. He also has 10 assists.
Gill was a menace to the CeeBees every time he hit the ice Saturday night, and had more than his fair share of the 55 shots his team blasted at a busy Mark Yetman.
The loss stretched the CeeBees losing streak to four games, and dropped the team’s record to 5-10-0.
The CeeBees haven’t won a game since Dec. 1, and now have to worry about holding onto the fourth and final playoff berth in the five-team provincial league, with the expansion Gander Flyers continuing to play competitive hockey.
The CeeBees will face extreme pressure to turn things around when it hosts the Western Royals for a pair of games on Jan. 19 and 20.
Though outshot by a large margin, the CeeBees were by no means outclassed in Saturday’s game, despite having to play without veteran defenceman Donnie Gosse and talented forward Ray Dalton.
The CeeBees had hoped for a split in the series, and surely gained confidence following a very good contest with the Cats on Friday that could have went either way.
But it was the Cats that struck first on Saturday, with rearguard Luke Gallant potting his second goal of the weekend on another well-placed blast that whizzed into the top of the mesh behind Yetman. The goal came at the 9:42 mark, with assists credited to Andrew Brennan and Chris Peach.
Gill struck for his first of the night just over a minute later when he deflected a shot past Yetman. Greg Hoffe and Matt Quinn collected helpers on the play.
The CeeBees rebounded later in the period, taking advantage of some uncharacteristically undisciplined play by the Cats.
The CeeBees got on the board at 14:18 of the game when Doug O’Brien found the twine. The goal came on a power play, with assists credited to Ryan Delaney and Jason Hedges.
Veteran Terry Ryan tied the game less than two minutes later on a shot from about 20 feet that eluded Cats’ keeper A. J. Whiffen. The goal came just as a penalty to the Cats had expired. Also in on the play were Colin Feehan and Jamie Tobin.
But the Cats stole the momentum back early in the middle frame, scoring twice before the first minute of play had expired to take a 4-2 lead.
Gill potted an unassisted marker just 28 seconds in on a play that Yetman should have stopped, and a plucky Ryan Graham sniped a goal at the 57 second mark, beating Yetman to the blocker side. Peach and Martin Lapointe assisted.
Daniel Sparkes tried to give the CeeBees some energy after he dominated Colin Power in a heavyweight fight that brought the crowd to its feet, but there was no more scoring in the middle stanza.
The CeeBees continued to press in the third, but Gill silenced the crowd after he fired his third of the night into a yawning cage at 13:39 on a play started by Lapointe and Brandon Nicholas.
Robert Slaney narrowed the gap to 5-3 when he scored at 16:23 of the last period, but that was as close as the CeeBees would get.
CeeBees captain and leading point-getter Keith Delaney was kept off the scoresheet in both games against the Cats.