The Yarmouth Mariners have captured back-to-back Eastlink South Division crowns, topping the South Shore Lumberjacks in a thrilling six-game series. The Mariners advance to the Canadian Tire Cup Final and await the winner of the Eastlink North Division Final between Campbellton and Summerside.
Game 1 for South Shore was nearly a complete reversal from the start of the Eastlink South Final last season, where Yarmouth posted a 6-1 win to set the tone for what would end up being a five-game victory for the Mariners. This time, the Lumberjacks cruised to a 5-2 victory at Mariners Centre. Brandon Stone opened the scoring late in the 1st period and a goal from Logan O’Neil gave South Shore a 2-0 lead after 40 minutes. Brent Broaders got one back for Yarmouth 1:32 into the final period, but Nicolas Tardif made it a 3-1 lead at 7:49 with a powerplay goal. Matt Barron was stopped on a penalty shot at 10:15that would have brought Yarmouth back to within a goal, which proved costly as Tardif sent the puck into an empty net with just 1:27 remaining to give South Shore a 4-1 lead. The teams would trade goals in the final minute, but South Shore was off to the races with a Game 1 victory.
The Lumberjacks would strike first in Game 2 on home ice with a powerplay goal from Christian Tsukamoto at 3:03. Landon Quinney (on the powerplay) and Barron scored 1:11 apart midway through the period to give Yarmouth their first lead of the series, but Cody Grant tied things up with a late powerplay goal. In the 2nd period, Riley Gill restored the lead for South Shore at 8:35. It was short-lived, however, as Yarmouth’s quick-strike offence went to work. Three goals in just over four minutes opened up a 5-3 lead. In the 3rd period, the teams would gain trade goals, but a 6-4 final in favour of the Mariners evened the series at a game apiece.
Yarmouth was determined to post a win on home ice in Game 3 and went to work quickly. Chris Goreham and Brent Broaders scored in the opening three minutes, while Andrew Martell added two before the period was out to stake Yarmouth to a 4-0 lead. They would add two more before Tardif got South Shore on the board at 17:45 of the 2nd period, but the damage was done. Yarmouth won 6-1 and took a 2-1 series lead.
Sometimes it’s not how you start a game, but how you finish it and that was certainly the case in Game 4 back in Bridgewater. A shorthanded goal from Quinney and a powerplay marker from Brett Crossley gave Yarmouth a 2-0 lead after the 1st period. O’Neil and Grant would answer in the 2nd period, on the powerplay and shorthanded respectively. Goreham scored another powerplay goal for Yarmouth at 4:13 of the 3rd to give the Mariners the lead back 3-2. O’Neil’s second powerplay goal of the night at 13:50 tied things up once again. As time ticked away, it seemed like overtime was on the way. That’s when Grant got the Lunenburg County LifeStyle Centre buzzing with a goal at 19:00. He and O’Neil would then add empty net goals to each complete hat tricks. The Lumberjacks would skate away with a 6-3 win to tie the series 2-2 and set up a best of three.
After all of the excitement through four games, it was a closer outing in Game 5 for both. Just three minor penalties were called at Mariners Centre. Martell got Yarmouth on the board at 4:55 of the 1st and Tsukamoto tied it up at 14:16. South Shore would grab the lead at 6:53 of the 2nd with a shorthanded goal, but it was Martell scoring again to send us to the final period with the teams tied at 2. Quinney beat Lumberjacks goaltender Ty Grant at 16:17 of the 3rd to restore Yarmouth’s lead. An empty net goal from Connor Peveril sealed a 4-2 win to give the Mariners a 4-2 win and a 3-2 series lead.
With a chance to clinch their second straight Eastlink South title, the Yarmouth Mariners wasted no time getting on the board. After a penalty to Josh Nicholson of South Shore just 95 seconds into the game, Logan Timmons beat Ty Grant 21 seconds later to put the Mariners up 1-0. South Shore would tie things up on the powerplay at 9:23 as O’Neil scored his MHL-leading 10th goal of the playoffs. The teams emerged from the dressing room for the second period, where Yarmouth seized control of Game 6. Broaders scored at 3:03 to give the Mariners a lead, followed by Timmons at 4:12. Cade Neilsen extended the lead to 4-1 at 9:10, and Quinney add another goal 17 seconds later. Barron scored at 14:54 to put Yarmouth up 6-1. In the 3rd period, Quinney added a goal on the powerplay and the Mariners would finish off the game and Eastlink South Division Final with a 7-1 victory.
Yarmouth now wait to see when and where they begin the Canadian Tire Cup FInal. If they face Summerside, they start on the road. Should Campbellton prevail in the Eastlink North Division Final, Yarmouth would have home-ice advantage.