TRURO – In search of anything to give themselves a spark, the Truro Bearcats decided to try wearing eye black Thursday in Game 3 of their Kent Cup playoff series with the Pictou County Crushers.
The Bearcats got a huge monkey off their backs in the Eastlink Division semifinal with a 6-3 victory over the Crushers in front of 1,785 fans at RECC. The win cuts Pictou's lead in the best-of-seven affair to 2-1 with Game 4 Saturday in New Glasgow.
“I just think we realized that if we’re ever gonna do it, it had to be tonight,” Bearcats goaltender Jacob Fancy, who got the call between the pipes in place of No. 1 netminder Shayne Campbell, said. “It was a do-or-die game. If you go down 3-0 in the series, you’re in a lot of trouble, so we had nothing to lose and we played that way.”
Whether it was the eye black or some other reason, it was clear early on Bearcats fans weren't watching the same Hubtown squad that had struggled to find its game in the first two contests of the series.
The Bearcats proved it at 3:03 of the opening frame when Kyle Morrison gave his team its first lead of the series with a power-play blast from the slot that beat Brandon Thibeau high.
“It was good to get that,” Morrison, who had two goals and assisted on another in the game, said. “It was the first time we scored first in the series, so to see that puck go in was definitely a boost for the boys.”
The Bearcats kept coming, earning themselves a 4-0 lead with goals from Grant West, Tyler Morrison and Travis Moore by 2:04 of the second period.
Fancy didn’t lose any sleep Wednesday night after Bearcats coach Shawn Evans told him he was getting the nod in Game 3. It showed. The 17-year-old Sackville native made 24 saves and seemed on his way to a clean sheet. But after his teammates took four penalties in a three-minute span late in the second, the Crushers' Nick Parker found a way to beat Fancy for his first of two on the night.
Evans settled his bunch down in the intermission, and Dylan McGuigan made it 5-1 five minutes into the third. Morrison, with his second, notched Truro’s sixth.
Parker and Jordan MacInnis struck late for the Crushers to round out the scoring.
Unlike Games 1 and 2, the Bearcats were much more effective in winning battles for the puck, then holding onto it and dictating the play. It was especially so in the first period when they outshot the Crushers 20-5. Truro went on to enjoy a 44-27 edge in the game.
“We just had four lines that really wanted to win,” Morrison said. “We got pucks in deep and went to work and we played down low and that’s to our strength. So we’ve just got to keep doing that.”
McGuigan’s tally chased Thibeau from the Pictou County net after 30 saves. Truro native Dylan Frank stopped eight of the nine shots he faced the rest of the way.
Now the Bearcats turn their attention to Saturday’s contest with a mission of knotting the series.
“Now we’ve got something positive down and we’ve got to move forward from that,” Morrison said.
And you can bet, the eye black will be back.