The CeeBee Stars are one win away from hoisting the Herder Memorial Trophy after narrowly beating the Clarenville Caribous 3-2 in Game 3 at the S.W. Moores Memorial Stadium in Harbour Grace.
In front of some 1,400 people, the CeeBees put together a strong defensive performance, limiting the high octane offense of the Caribous to just 26 shots.
With the victory, the CeeBees now have a controlling three games to none series lead over the favoured Caribous.
“It’s never over. Obviously, the fourth game is the hardest to win, but I’d rather be up 3-0 than down 3-0,” said Jordan Escott, who scored the game-winner.
The stadium in Harbour Grace was rocking as a boisterous group of Caribous fans made their voices heard on numerous occasions. That, coupled with a rowdy Harbour Grace group, created quite the atmosphere.
Escott broke a 2-2 tie with just over 11 minutes remaining in the third period after he deposited a tough angle shot in a yawning cage behind Caribous starter Jason Churchill. Robert Slaney and Grant Kenny picked up the assists.
“Slaney put it right on my tape, so I pretty much had an empty net,” he said. “It’s a good feeling. It was a big goal to put us up after they had just scored.”
After scoring the goal, Escott touched his palm to the ice, before letting out a primal scream and was then mobbed by his teammates.
Prior to the goal, the Caribous had their fair share of pressure. CeeBees’ starter Mark Yetman was equal to the task, turning aside each shot he saw.
The CeeBees opened the scoring in the first period when Ray Dalton blasted a shot past Churchill. Chris Sparkes and Jason Hedges had the helpers.
The period ended with the CeeBees 1-0.
The Caribous struck back in the second frame. Steven Oates made a nifty play in the front of the CeeBees’ goal, putting a loose puck between his legs and behind Yetman.
The goal kicked off a period of five to six minutes where the Caribous came close to grabbing the lead on numerous occasions. Steve Yetman and Brandon Street had the assists.
But, it was the CeeBees who would strike next. With David Victor in the box, Doug O’Brien wired a shot from the point through a maze of bodies past Churchill and into the goal. Slaney and Mike Dyke had helpers.
The rest of the period was even as teams traded chances before the buzzer sounded.
In the third, Matt Bragg finished a nifty play from Ryan Desrosiers to make the score 2-2. Desrosiers snapped of his stick seconds before, circled around to get new lumber and then made the pass to Bragg. Blake Gallagher had the other assist.
The CeeBees head into Game 4 with a stranglehold on the series.
“It wasn’t our best game and the boys know that,” said coach Ian Moores. “Tomorrow night, we’re going to come out the same mindset, same attitude, but some of the little mistakes tonight, we’re going to try and erase those, and be even more tenacious.”
The game was the first Herder Memorial Trophy game in Harbour Grace since 1967. Pre-game festivities included nine members from the 1967 championship team.
The CeeBees will try to wrap up the series Saturday night with puck drop at 7:30 p.m.