DEER LAKE — Darren Langdon crashed and banged to keep his team alive and his tenacity paid off.
The former National Hockey League enforcer scored thee goals, including the eventual game-winning marker, to lead the Western Royals to a 6-4 triumph over the Clarenville Caribous Sunday afternoon to get his team even at one game apiece in a Newfoundland Senior Hockey League best-of-seven semifinal series.
While he made a living with his hands as a tough customer in a 12-year NHL career, Langdon has been one of the most consistent offensive performers in provincial senior hockey league circles all season and looks like he’s eager to finish the post-season with people noticing him more for his soft hands rather than his rough and tumble style that usually leads the hulking forward to racking up penalty minutes.
Langdon was reunited with Brett Morrison and Justin Barbour for Sunday’s contest and it proved to be a lethal combination, much like it was all season long as the trio formed one of the more offensive-minded units in the league. Morrison returned to the lineup Saturday night after missing a month with a lower-body injury.
His ice time was limited in the series opener as coach Kearsey seemed content to ease the star forward back into the thick of battle.
Barbour, who was named the team’s MVP prior to Saturday’s puck drop, had a two-goal game for the Royals and Ryan Penney rounded out the scoring parade.
Blake Gallagher had two goals to lead the Caribous, who will play host to the next three games in Clarenville this weekend, while Dale Sullivan and Jeremy Kavanagh had the other goals.
Saturday night, Jason Churchill outduelled Bryan Gillis in the crease and Steve Yetman scored two goals as the Caribous downed the Royals 6-2 in a lacklustre affair before a quiet Hodder crowd of about 1,000 fans.
Dale Sullivan, Blake Gallagher, Mike Stevens and Jeremy Kavanagh rounded out the scoring parade for the Caribous, who held a 2-0 lead after 20 minutes and a three-goal cushion heading into the final stanza.
Mike Lee and Brett Morrison, in his first game in a month, provided the goals for the Royals.
The following is a look at how things unfolded in the two weekend games between the Grand Falls-Windsor Cataracts and Eastlink CeeBee Stars at Joe Byrne Memorial Stadium:
Cataracts 8, Cee Bee Stars 3
Andre Gill and Brandon Nicholas scored two goals apiece to lead the Cats to a lopsided win Sunday to get even in the best-of-seven affair after the Harbour Grace squad stunned the central squad with a 5-4 overtime win in the series opener Saturday night at Joe Byrne Memorial Stadium.
Keith Delaney, Jordan Escott and Nick Theriault scored for the CeeBee Stars with A. J. Whiffen getting the W over counterpart Mark Whiffen of the CeeBee Stars.
CeeBee Stars 5, Cataracts 4 (OT)
Robert Slaney scored the winning goal in overtime as the CeeBee Stars upset the Cats in the series opener Saturday night after fighting back from an early 2-0 deficit before a capacity crowd at the home rink of the league champions.
Chris Sparkes was a dominant force for the Harbour Grace boys with a three-goal performance, while Jordan Escott scored the team’s fourth goal late in the third to set the stage for the extra period.
Andrew Pearcey, Tim Green, Luke Gallant and Andre Gill scored for the Cataracts — who have now lost its last two games against the CeeBee Stars who nabbed the fourth and final playoff berth on the final day of the regular season with a win over the expansion Gander Flyers in Harbour Grace two weeks ago.