For the first time since 2004-05, Campbellton will play for a league championship. The Tigers beat Summerside 2-0 on home ice in Game 6 to advance to the Canadian Tire Cup Final, where they will face the Yarmouth Mariners.
Game 1 opened at Credit Union Place in Summerside, with the road team skating away with a 2-0 victory. Dawson Stairs opened the scoring at 18:45 of the 1st period and Drew Toner found the back of the net on the powerplay just 55 seconds later for all the goals the Tigers would need. Tristan Gray continued to be a rock in goal for Campbellton, making 33 saves for his third shutout victory of the playoffs.
Summerside didn’t get the start they were looking for in front of a packed house at the Campbellton Memorial Civic Centre in Game 2 as Sam Dow opened the scoring for the Tigers just 1:32 into the 1st period. From there, however, the Western Capitals league-leading offense got on track. T.J. Shea tied the game with just 20 seconds left in the opening frame and Jacob Hickey would give Summerside their first lead of the series 50 seconds into the 2nd period. Sullivan Sparkes and Cam Roberts (PP) would add goals in the 3rd and the Eastlink North Final would be tied at a game apiece following a 4-1 win for Summerside.
The defensive-minded Tigers would once again contain Summerside in Game 3, with shots just 18-17 in favour of the Western Capitals through a scoreless opening 40 minutes. In the 3rd period, Francis Thibeault opened the scoring at 9:05 and Pascal Valcourt would cap another 2-0 win in Summerside with a goal at 19:52. In addition, Gray recorded his fourth shutout of the postseason.
Could the home team finally pick up a victory? The Tigers were looking to do just that and a goal by Jared Janke at 14:03 made 2,610 at the Campbellton Memorial Civic Centre even louder. Janke’s second of the night at 5:18 made it 2-0 Campbellton, but Noah Massie got one back at 7:03 setting the stage for a huge third period. Drew Toner scored his second goal of the series to restore a two-goal lead for the Tigers, which again would be answered quickly as Shea got the score back to 3-2 with a goal for the Western Capitals at 7:19. A finally flurry by Summerside wasn’t enough, and the buzzer sounded to push Summerside to the brink and a 3-1 series lead for Campbellton. However, a scrum at the end of the game would change the complexion of the upcoming Game 5. The results were two-game suspensions to Summerside’s T.J. Shea and Campbellton’s Francis Thibeault for fighting after the end of a game, two games for Summerside’s Kallum Muirhead for a cross-checking match penalty, and one game for Campbellton goaltender Tristan Gray for a high-sticking major.
As the series shifted back to Summerside, the Western Capitals limited opportunities for the Tigers and got their offense rolling in front of the home crowd. After a scoreless 1st period, Dylan Riley and Roberts each scored powerplay goals on Tigers goaltender Marc-Antoine Berube-Jalbert late in the 2nd to take a 2-0 lead. Conor MacEachern would add another goal at 8:27 and Dominik Tmej made 20 saves for his first shutout of these playoffs as Summerside forced a trip back to Campbellton with a 3-0 win in Game 5.
Game 6 saw a scoreless 1st period once again, but a late boarding penalty to Sparkes would give Campbellton some powerplay time to start the middle frame. At 1:18, Dawson Stairs ripped a shot from the top of the faceoff circle past Tmej to give the Tigers the lead. Each team would have a handful of quality scoring chances in the period, but Gray and Tmej held their ground, sending the teams to the dressing room tied in shots at 22 aside, but with the Tigers leading 1-0. With the goaltender pulled late in the 3rd period, Brendan Bornstein found the empty net from long distance to give the Tigers a 2-0 victory. Gray, amazingly, recorded his fifth shutout of the post-season.
The schedule for the Canadian Tire Cup Final will be released when available, in addition to a series preview.