The Central IcePak finished with nine more wins in the regular season than the Tri Pen Osprey.
But the teams are heading into Game 3 of its Newfoundland and Labrador Major Midget League best-of-7 playoff series tied 1-1.
© Photo by Matt Molloy/Transcontinental Media
Central IcePak forward Hunter John, right, tries to strip Tri Pen Osprey Cass Warren of the puck during Sunday’s game two in Lewisporte. The IcePak won the game 4-0 to even the semifinal series 1-1.
“It’s crazy,” said second-year defenceman Christian Dawe.
The Osprey finished the regular season in fourth place of the five-team league. The team had qualified for the playoffs on the second last day of the season.
That meant a first-round matchup with the top-seeded IcePak.
Tri Pen now comes home with the series split.
It has given the young Osprey confidence heading into the pivotal third game of the series Feb. 21 at the PARC Arena in Placentia.
As the series shifts home, the Tri Pen players have a new found confidence.
Dawe said a key will be staying discipline.
“We have to stay out of the penalty box and work together as a unit,” he said.
The Game 1 victory is proof the Osprey can skate with the IcePak.
“If we play our game, we can finish the series strong and proud,” said Dawe.
Heading into Game 1 of the semifinals, the Osprey were labeled the underdog. It was a label they proudly carried into the first matchup at the Gander Community Centre on Feb. 15.
“It pushed us to prove we could beat the top-seeded team,” said Dawe.
In Game 1, the Osprey gutted out a 3-1 victory in the opening contest.
Goaltender Riley Akerman was outstanding in the victory and Tri Pen got goals from Andrew Churchill, Conal McNamara and Nathaniel Duffett.
Emotions were running heading into Game 2, as the Osprey looked to build off the momentum of stealing the Game 1 victory.
However, the IcePak had other ideas.
Central rode three goals from Adam Dawe and the stellar play of goaltender Curtis Barrett to a 4-0 shutout. Ben Avery had the other marker.
In September, the Osprey rose from the ashes of the defunct Tri Pen Lions. Featuring players from minor associations, including those based in Harbour Grace, Bay Roberts, Whitbourne, Placentia, Clarenville, Bonavista and Marystown, Tri Pen had one goal in mind at the beginning of the season.
Make the playoffs.
It is not something lost on the players.
“No matter the outcome, we’ve accomplished our goal as a new franchise in this league,” said Dawe “We can play with any team here.”
Game 3 gets underway 7 p.m. at the PARC Arena in Placentia before the series shifts to the Bay Arena in Bay Roberts for Games 4-5.
Game 4 is set for 7 p.m. in Bay Roberts on Saturday (Feb. 22), while Game 5 will go 2 p.m. on Sunday (Feb. 23).