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Swept away


TRURO – Fighting for air, rolling over and over in the frigid, churning water with the current sweeping him ever farther downstream, Kenny Mullins figured his time had come.

No matter, moments later, head coach Shawn Evans swooped up the hardware and placed it in front of the team for a group photo with the old familiar cup.

Hands on or hands off, the Truro Bearcats won their third straight Eastlink Division championship on Thursday night, knocking off the Valley Wildcats with a 4-2 win, earning a sweep in four straight games.

As the team rode high after the game, the often-quiet captain explained the refusal to touch the trophy.

“Over the last two years, Travis Moore touched it and we didn’t win in the finals, and then last year, Phil (Fife) didn’t touch it and we won,” Pye said. “So we’ll try to stick with tradition and keep it going.”

The Bearcats used that same tradition to bang out another series win on Thursday, taking the Eastlink Division despite coming into the playoffs as the lowest seed.

“It’s a great feeling to clinch a title,” Pye said. “Three years in a row is pretty special.”

The Bearcats got things going in the first period, opening up with energy as usual. They outshot the Wildcats the whole way through the frame, with Alex Soumakis putting Truro on the board with four minutes to play. Soumakis, alone in front, put home a powerplay goal with assists to Jordan McNaughton and Pye.

Valley answered back in the second, when Mike Molloy picked off a fledgling outlet pass from Bearcats’ defenceman David Mosher and sent it to Josh Worthen alone in front. Worthen one-timed it over Jacob Fancy to tie the game.

Shortly after, Pye put his team back in front, finishing on a picture-perfect, tic-tac-toe passing play with Daniel Perigo and McNaughton for a powerplay marker.

Just 10 seconds into the third period, Malloy knotted the game once more, swinging momentum into Valley’s favour.

The comeback story didn’t last for long, however, as Truro’s Jesse MacInnis outmuscled a Wildcats defender down low and cut to the front of the net, outwaiting Valley goalie Blade Mann-Dixon and slipping it into the empty cage.

Three minutes later, Denver Lynds broke in on the man-advantage and took two cracks at the puck before beating Mann-Dixon to put the Bearcats ahead 4-2.

With less than two minutes to play and the Valley net empty, Colby Lanceleve clapped a shot into the open cage, however it was called back due to McNaughton being offside in the Valley zone. On the ensuing whistle, Lynds dropped the mitts with Wildcats’ captain Anthony Cardinal in a major tilt. Lynds landed several shots early on, with Cardinal steadying himself and dropping a few haymakers of his own later. The two continued to exchange punches after the linesmen stepped in, with Lynds reaching over his shoulder, hauling out an imaginary arrow and shooting it off before skating to the dressing room.

After the game, Lynds was still amped with adrenaline and reflected back on the series.

“(It feels) good, especially to sweep them, especially with them having home ice and their 15 game winning streak or whatever they had,” he said. “For us to sweep them four straight, it shows we have a lot of character.”

With a series sweep consisting of four close games, it’s hard to pinpoint exactly what gave Truro the consistent edge, but Lynds has an answer.

“I’d say our coaching has been the difference,” he said. “Every play they had, Coach Shawn had a play to match and an answer to it. It’s a big key thing for him to know what he’s doing and we just follow up on it.”

From his end, Evans, never one to toot his own horn, said experience was a key in the sweep.

“I’d like to think at the end of the day, our veteran experience made the difference,” he said. “And at key points throughout the series, I thought (Jacob) Fancy did his job.”

Evans, among the winningest coaches in league history, is on his best streak to date. Along for the ride the last three years have been Pye, Perigo, Lanceleve and Mosher.

“We’re pretty proud as an organization to have the chance to defend the title, and to make it to the final for three years in a row, it’s not easy. It’s not easy.

Looking forward, the Bearcats will defend that title against the winner of the Meek Division final, either the Dieppe Commandos or Miramichi Timberwolves. The Commandos took a 3-1 series lead on Thursday night.

“They’re both good teams,” Evans said. “We won’t have home-ice advantage, but at the end of the day everything will remain the same in Bearcat Land. We’ll look after ourselves first.”

 

 

No matter, moments later, head coach Shawn Evans swooped up the hardware and placed it in front of the team for a group photo with the old familiar cup.

Hands on or hands off, the Truro Bearcats won their third straight Eastlink Division championship on Thursday night, knocking off the Valley Wildcats with a 4-2 win, earning a sweep in four straight games.

As the team rode high after the game, the often-quiet captain explained the refusal to touch the trophy.

“Over the last two years, Travis Moore touched it and we didn’t win in the finals, and then last year, Phil (Fife) didn’t touch it and we won,” Pye said. “So we’ll try to stick with tradition and keep it going.”

The Bearcats used that same tradition to bang out another series win on Thursday, taking the Eastlink Division despite coming into the playoffs as the lowest seed.

“It’s a great feeling to clinch a title,” Pye said. “Three years in a row is pretty special.”

The Bearcats got things going in the first period, opening up with energy as usual. They outshot the Wildcats the whole way through the frame, with Alex Soumakis putting Truro on the board with four minutes to play. Soumakis, alone in front, put home a powerplay goal with assists to Jordan McNaughton and Pye.

Valley answered back in the second, when Mike Molloy picked off a fledgling outlet pass from Bearcats’ defenceman David Mosher and sent it to Josh Worthen alone in front. Worthen one-timed it over Jacob Fancy to tie the game.

Shortly after, Pye put his team back in front, finishing on a picture-perfect, tic-tac-toe passing play with Daniel Perigo and McNaughton for a powerplay marker.

Just 10 seconds into the third period, Malloy knotted the game once more, swinging momentum into Valley’s favour.

The comeback story didn’t last for long, however, as Truro’s Jesse MacInnis outmuscled a Wildcats defender down low and cut to the front of the net, outwaiting Valley goalie Blade Mann-Dixon and slipping it into the empty cage.

Three minutes later, Denver Lynds broke in on the man-advantage and took two cracks at the puck before beating Mann-Dixon to put the Bearcats ahead 4-2.

With less than two minutes to play and the Valley net empty, Colby Lanceleve clapped a shot into the open cage, however it was called back due to McNaughton being offside in the Valley zone. On the ensuing whistle, Lynds dropped the mitts with Wildcats’ captain Anthony Cardinal in a major tilt. Lynds landed several shots early on, with Cardinal steadying himself and dropping a few haymakers of his own later. The two continued to exchange punches after the linesmen stepped in, with Lynds reaching over his shoulder, hauling out an imaginary arrow and shooting it off before skating to the dressing room.

After the game, Lynds was still amped with adrenaline and reflected back on the series.

“(It feels) good, especially to sweep them, especially with them having home ice and their 15 game winning streak or whatever they had,” he said. “For us to sweep them four straight, it shows we have a lot of character.”

With a series sweep consisting of four close games, it’s hard to pinpoint exactly what gave Truro the consistent edge, but Lynds has an answer.

“I’d say our coaching has been the difference,” he said. “Every play they had, Coach Shawn had a play to match and an answer to it. It’s a big key thing for him to know what he’s doing and we just follow up on it.”

From his end, Evans, never one to toot his own horn, said experience was a key in the sweep.

“I’d like to think at the end of the day, our veteran experience made the difference,” he said. “And at key points throughout the series, I thought (Jacob) Fancy did his job.”

Evans, among the winningest coaches in league history, is on his best streak to date. Along for the ride the last three years have been Pye, Perigo, Lanceleve and Mosher.

“We’re pretty proud as an organization to have the chance to defend the title, and to make it to the final for three years in a row, it’s not easy. It’s not easy.

Looking forward, the Bearcats will defend that title against the winner of the Meek Division final, either the Dieppe Commandos or Miramichi Timberwolves. The Commandos took a 3-1 series lead on Thursday night.

“They’re both good teams,” Evans said. “We won’t have home-ice advantage, but at the end of the day everything will remain the same in Bearcat Land. We’ll look after ourselves first.”

 

 

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