“It’s what you dream of – Game 7 of the finals,” said Kyle Tibbo, captain of the Truro Bearcats, whose team visits the Miramichi Timberwolves Friday in the deciding game of the Maritime Junior Hockey League final series. “I’m sure everyone’s going to give their all, we’re going to leave it all on the ice, for sure.”
The Bearcats will need to flip the script in the series if they plan on bringing a fourth MHL title back to the Hubtown, as the home team has won all six games to this point.
Also, the Timberwolves haven’t lost in the playoffs at the Miramich Civic Centre, going a perfect 7-0.
“I think we’ve got to get a jump on them,” Tibbo said. ”We’ve got to score the first goal, and I think if we get the first goal and build some momentum and stay on them, we’ll have a good chance.”
It should come as no surprise the series is going the distance. The teams posted nearly identical records in the regular season and both clubs have relied on strong veteran leadership during the post-season.
Tibbo said the final series has been a physical grind.
“Every shift out there is a battle, and you come to the bench and you’re tired and you can barely breathe, and your legs are sore and your arms are sore; it’s a battle for sure.”
But there’s always gas left in the tank for the biggest game of the season.
“If you’re not motivated for Game 7, then I don’t think you should be playing this sport,” said Tibbo, who won a MHL title with Truro during his rookie season in 2013-14. “I think all the hard skates we had this year and the heavy practices we dreaded all year, it’s gonna pay off.”
The Bearcats will look for goaltender Jason Rioux to turn in one last stellar performance between the pipes. Rioux has been awesome in the final series while facing an onslaught of shots.
In Game 6 Wednesday he made 33 saves, including 14 in the final period, to lead the Bearcats to a 3-2 victory and keep their championship hopes alive.
The Timbwerwolves, who breezed through the opening two rounds of the playoffs with four-game sweeps of St. Stephen and Summerside, remain confident heading into Game 7 on home ice.
“We play our game at home and we’re going there with our past three games with Ws there, so we’re happy,” said Timberwolves forward Riley Scott.
The winner of Friday's game will represent the MHL at next week’s Fred Page Cup Eastern Canadian championship in Terrebonne, Que.
Veteran forward suspended
The Bearcats will be without veteran forward Denver Lynds for Friday's game.
Lynds received a 10-minute misconduct for a blow to the head in Game 6 on Wednesday. The penalty comes with a two-game suspension.
The Bearcats appealed the suspension, however, it was denied Thursday.