Truro advances after eliminating Valley in divisional semifinal
TRURO - Truro Bearcats goaltender Chris Festarini summed it up perfectly.
Truro Bearcats defenceman David Mosher battles for the puck with Pat MacIsaac of the Valley Wildcats Saturday during Game 4 of their EastLink Division semifinal in Kentville. The Bearcats won the game 5-0 to complete a sweep of the best-of-seven series. Photo by Gary Manning
"One down, two to go," the 20-year-old native of Oakville, Ont., said Sunday, a day after he made 34 saves in a 5-0 Bearcats win, completing a four-game sweep of the Valley Wildcats in their Maritime Junior Hockey League EastLink Division semifinal.
The division final is next on the checklist as the Bearcats work to achieve a Kent Cup title. Who they meet in the next round could be settled Wednesday when the Pictou County Crushers and Amherst Ramblers battle in Game 6 of their semifinal in Amherst. The Crushers hold a 3-2 edge in the affair.
Naturally, the Bearcats were happy to slam the door on the Wildcats season in front of 432 fans in Kentville and give themselves nearly a week's rest before locking horns with another foe.
"Everyone wants to get the job done when they have the chance," Bearcats head coach Shawn Evans said.
His team certainly did.
Tyler Morrison, who topped Truro's points list in the regular season with 69 (23G, 46A) in 52 games, got the Bearcats on the board 7:46 into the game. Phillip Fife extended the lead at the 12-minute mark.
"I thought we had a really good first period," Evans said. "We kept our shifts short and got the bench involved."
Truro continued to roll in the second frame with Kyle Tibbo striking at 8:19 before Fife scored his second of the night at 12:37. Debert resident Denver Lynds rounded out the scoring about four minutes later and Truro's Daniel Perigo chipped in a pair of assists.
Blade Mann-Dixon, who stood on his head in the mini-series against the Yarmouth Mariners, made 38 saves in the Valley crease.
"It's always hard to eliminate a team," Festarini, six-foot-two, 191-pounds, said. "But we just came together, worked hard and found a way to win."
Evans said the keys to success on Saturday were also true of the rest of the series for the defending Fred Page Cup Eastern Canadian champions.
"You need to play to your strengths to give yourself the best chance to win," he said. "We were far from perfect but we found a way each game."
Although the scores were tilted in Truro's favour - the Bearcats outscored the Wildcats 24-6 – the battle on the ice was much different. Boosted by sending the Mariners home early, the Wildcats were looking to prove themselves against a Bearcats team which had taken all eight regular-season meetings between the clubs.
"We knew they were going to come hard. They're a hard-working team," Festarini said. "But we didn't want to go home early. We played hard and came out on top and we're all happy with that."
But Festarini was quick to add he and his teammates aren't too happy. They know a worthy opponent, no matter who comes out of the other semifinal, is on the horizon.
"You can't get too high," Festarini said. "We've got to work hard to prepare for the next series."
The Miramichi Timberwolves advanced to the Meek Division final Sunday after nabbing a 3-2 win in Game 5 over the Summerside Western Capitals in Miramichi, clinching their semifinal 4-1.
The Dieppe Commandos hold a 3-1 cushion over the Woodstock Slammers in their other Meek Division semi. Game 5 of that series is slated for Tuesday in Dieppe.
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FLAG: INSTANT REPLAY
A snapshot look at Saturday's MHL playoff game between the Truro Bearcats and Valley Wildcats:
The outcome: Truro Bearcats 5, Valley Wildcats 0
What it means: The Bearcats complete a sweep of the EastLink Division semifinal 4-0
The scorers: Truro - Phillip Fife (2), Tyler Morrison, Kyle Tibbo, Denver Lynds
Three stars: 1. Chris Festarini (Truro); 2. Phillip Fife (Truro); 3. Tyler Morrison (Truro)
Next up: The Bearcats move on to the EastLink Division final against the winner of the other semifinal between the Pictou County Crushers and Amherst Ramblers