TRURO – The Valley Wildcats were simply no match for the Truro Bearcats on Saturday.
© Joey Smith – Truro Daily News
Colby Lanceleve of the Truro Bearcats goes hard to the net against the Valley Wildcats in Game 1 of a Maritime Junior Hockey League Eastlink Division semifinal series on Saturday. Truro won the contest 7-1.
The Bearcats controlled the game from start to finish and steamrolled the Wildcats 7-1 in Game 1 of their Maritime Junior Hockey League Eastlink Division semifinal series.
Game 2 in the best-of-seven affair is Tuesday in Kentville, beginning at 7:30 p.m. Game 3 is in Truro on Thursday, beginning at 7 p.m.
The Bearcats certainly looked the part of a No. 1 seed on Saturday. They were faster, stronger and hungrier than their counterparts throughout the night, as they rhymed off their ninth straight win over the Wildcats this season in front of 1,205 fans at the Rath Eastlink Community Centre.
“I think we came out in the first (period) exactly how we needed to,” said Bearcats assistant captain Brandon Pye, who had two goals and two assists and was named the game’s second star. “We established our game and put a lot of pressure on them and that took us through the rest of the game.”
The Bearcats established a strong forecheck early and kept the Wildcats hemmed in their own zone for much of the first period. That pressure paid off at 10:34 when Daniel Perigo fired a Brandon Boutilier pass by Wildcats goaltender Blade Mann-Dixon for a 1-0 lead.
Pye and Kyle Tibbo would add to the lead before the end of the opening stanza for a comfortable 3-0 cushion.
“In the playoffs you have to make every shift count, and we did that tonight,” Pye said.
The Bearcats continued to come at the Wildcats in waves during the final 40 minutes. A relentless forecheck and diligent cycle work down low paid off for the home team, which added three tallies in the middle period for a commanding 6-0 lead.
“We talked about it all week,” Pye said. “We wanted to push the pace and see if they can play with us, so we got pucks deep early and just put pressure on their defence.”
The Bearcats chased Mann-Dixon from the cage after the second period. Bobby Palzer played in the third.
After Brandon Bazinet made it 7-0 for Truro with just under eight minutes remaining, the only thing left in doubt was Chris Featarini’s shutout bid.
The Wildcats took advantage of a late power play to spoil that attempt, as Austin Harding’s point shot bounced off Nick Bruce in the slot behind Festarini with 2:36 left to play.
The Wildcats entered the contest after an emotional upset win over the Yarmouth Mariners in a mini-series last week to determine the fourth playoff seed. However, they had very little jump in their step against the Bearcats.
“We didn’t come to play, basically,” Harding said. “We didn’t battle, we just didn’t show up.
“They outworked us down low, and their D jump into the play a lot, and they always have a high guy in the slot that seems to be troubling us right now.”
The Bearcats played the contest without high-scoring forward Jacob Smith, who sat out with a lower body injury. Smith, who scored 30 goals in the regular season, is expected to return to the lineup on Tuesday.
Truro 7, Valley 1
Scorers: Truro – Brandon Pye (2), Kyle Tibbo (2), Daniel Perigo, Phil Fife, Brandon Bazinet; Valley – Nick Bruce.
Shots: 37-21 Truro
Three stars: 1. Kyle Tibbo, Tru; 2. Brandon Pye, Tru; 3. Cal Gloade, Tru.