The participants in the Eastlink North Division Final were decided last night as the Summerside Western Capitals and Campbellton Tigers each finished off their respective Canadian Tire Cup first round opponents.
The Western Capitals opened their series with a 3-1 win on home ice against St. Stephen, following a pair of third-period goals at Credit Union Centre. The series would shift to the Garcelon Civic Centre for Game 2, where Summerside’s high-powered offence would erupt for four goals in the second period en route to a 5-1 victory over the Aces. Three of Summerside’s goals were on the powerplay and another was shorthanded.
St. Stephen would continue to give Summerside fits in Game 3, where the Aces held a 3-2 lead after two periods of play. The first four goals, two each, were all on the powerplay. T.J. Shea would tie the game 1:24 into the third period and Josh MacDonald gave Summerside the lead about five minutes later with a shorthanded goal. Brodie MacArthur’s second goal of the game, an empty netter, sealed a 5-3 win.
Game 4 saw Summerside jump out to a 4-0 lead by the 13:07 mark of the first period, sparked by a pair of goals from Dylan Riley. Zach Alchorn and Michael Johnson would get two back before the end of the frame, but the pressure was on after a scoreless second period. Michael Waugh found the back of the net just 55 seconds into the third for St. Stephen. However, a powerplay goal from Sullivan Sparkes restored the two-goal lead for Summerside in a 5-3 victory to sweep the Aces.
Special teams played a huge role in the series, with Summerside going 7 for 18 on the powerplay for a 38.9 per cent conversion rate; about 10 points higher than their league-leading percentage in the regular season. However, St. Stephen was 4 for 19 with the man advantage against the top penalty-killing team in the league. The Western Capitals also scored twice shorthanded after netting just four in the entire regular season.
Summerside’s opponent in the next round is none other than the Campbellton Tigers, who shook off a series-opening loss en route to a five-game victory over the defending league champion Edmundston Blizzard.
A pair of goals from Kyle Petten would give the Tigers a 2-0 lead after the opening two periods in Game 1 on home ice, but a strong third period would see Logan Johnston and Sam King find the back of the net to send the contest into overtime. Nothing was solved after the first overtime, so the teams would head to the dressing room to regroup. When they returned to the ice, Gabriel Vanier would snap a shot past Tristan Gray 5:13 into double OT to give the Blizzard the dramatic 3-2 win and a 1-0 series lead.
In a trend that would continue throughout the series, Campbellton struck first in Game 2 in Edmundston. The Tigers built another 2-0 lead before, again, the Blizzard would score a pair to tie it up. This time, Campbellton picked up two goals just under three minutes late in the third period apart for a 4-2 victory. The series shifted back to the Campbellton Memorial Civic Centre for Game 3, where a scoreless first period would be shattered by three goals in each of the last two periods as Campbellton cruised to a 6-0 win and a 2-1 series lead.
Maxime Charest opened the scoring at 11:56 of the first period in Game 4 for the Tigers at Centre Jean Daigle, and a scoreless middle frame set up an exciting third period. Samuel Leblanc scored for the Blizzard at 3:12 to tie the game. Goals from Dawson Stairs and Jared Janke gave Campbellton a 3-1 lead. Malcolm Arseneau made it close with a goal at 19:44, but an empty netter from Joel Walker would seal a 4-2 win for the Tigers and a 3-1 series lead. The series shifted back to Campbelton for Game 5, where the home side built a 2-0 lead after the first and a 4-0 lead after two periods of play. Gray would face just 18 shots in total and the Tigers booked their ticket for a matchup against Summerside with a 5-0 win over Edmundston.
Campbellton saw a balanced attack in the first round, with 16 players registering at least a point versus the Blizzard. In addition, twelve players had at least one goal.
The schedule or the Eastlink North Division Final will be announced when available, as well as a full preview of the matchup.