Defending champs eliminated in three games
Eastlink CeeBee Stars captain Mike Dyke’s face said it all.
© Photo by Nicholas Mercer/The Compass
Eastlink CeeBee Stars players Chris Sparkes (front) and Jordan Escott are dejected as they leave the ice after the team's 2-0 defeat at the hands of the Mount Pearl Blades. The loss dropped the CeeBees from the playoffs.
Stepping out the home dressing room beneath the score clock at the S.W. Moores Memorial Stadium in Harbour Grace, Dyke’s shoulders were slumped and his eyes hollow.
The Mount Pearl Blades had just eliminated his CeeBees from the Newfoundland Senior Hockey League east division’s semifinals and he was having trouble hiding his disappointment.
The Harbour Grace-based club was narrowly defeated 2-0 by the Blades in Game 3 of the teams’ best-of-5 series on Feb. 21.
The victory gave Mount Pearl the three game sweep and ended the CeeBees hopes of repeating as Herder Memorial Trophy champions.
“We threw everything we had left in the tank at Ryan Mior and the Blades, but we just couldn’t solve him tonight,” said Dyke.
The CeeBees came out of the gate with a chip on their shoulder. They took the body, forechecked with aggression and were not afraid to mix it up with their opponents.
The team was the picture of desperation all night. They were a team fighting for their playoff lives.
“We knew we had to start playing desperate hockey, that’s one thing we wanted to focus on and just start playing like dogs,” said Dyke. “I thought we played like that tonight, we just couldn’t buy one.”
Mior proved to be the difference in the contest.
For sixty minutes, the CeeBees kept pushing forward in hopes of solving the Mount Pearl goaltender. Mior stopped all 28 of the shots he faced.
The teams skated to a scoreless first period. It was back-and-forth frame with both Mior and CeeBees goaltender Roger Kennedy making key saves when called upon.
The teams were even in chances heading into the second period.
During the second period, things got a little chippy. It was commonplace to see players from both sides jawing with each other once the whistle had gone.
On numerous occasions, players had to be separated by the officials.
While the Blades had their chances, it was the CeeBees that carried the play.
Mior was forced to come up big on numerous occasions as the CeeBees pushed for the go-ahead marker.
However with just over a minute left in the period, Spencer Jezegou knocked a bouncing puck in the net behind Kennedy as the Blades drew first blood. Cory Blackmore drew the assist.
The third period featured more bad blood and even more scoring chances for the CeeBees.
The home team pressed hard for the equalizer, hitting one post on the way. Mark Tobin would squeak one past Kennedy with just over a minute left to seal the victory.
“They’ve got a good team and even better goalie,” said coach Peter George. “I thought our boys put it all on the line tonight. They played very, very well, but unfortunately it just wasn’t our year.”
The loss was the team’s seventh straight to Mount Pearl.
“They have a good, young team that work very hard,” said George.
The CeeBees played much of this year with a short bench. Even in Game 3, the team was without import scorer Ben Duffy and rock solid defenceman Donnie Gosse.
“We had a short bench all year and the guys in that room, they came out and they battled hard every night,” said George. “I want to thank the players first and foremost.”
The game was played in front of some 600 CeeBees' faithful. These fans gave the club a standing ovation when the final buzzer had sounded.
"We have a group of diehard fans that come out every night ... we certainly want to thank them too," said George.
The Blades will move onto face the Clarenville Caribous in the east division final.