The Renfrew Timberwolves are the first team to advance to this spring’s Valley Division championship series, although the Perth Blue Wings are sure to follow.
Battle of rivals.
From left, Renfrew’s Sean Kyte and Tanner Smith converge on Arnprior defenceman Alex Bourassa-Baron in front of goaltender Kyle Lamothe in game three of their Valley Division semifinal.
Peter Clark, Renfrew Mercury
The Timberwolves wrapped up their division semifinal series in four straight with a 5-1 win over the Arnprior Packers at the Nick Smith Centre Saturday night.
The win allows the Wolves to survey their 2012-13 Valley Division championship series opponent from afar, although probably not for long.
The Perth Blue Wings led the Stittsville Royals three games to nothing, and are the odds-on favourite to wrap the series up in Stittsville Monday night.
Wolves 5, Packers 1
The Wolves jumped out to a quick start, and were never seriously threatened in Saturday’s series-clinching triumph.
Scott Conroy and Tanner Smith had two goals apiece for Renfrew, who led 3-1 after 20 minutes, and 4-1 heading for home.
Patrick McGrath added a third-period marker when he was sent in alone off a Casey Doner feed.
Packers netminder Kyle Lamothe blocked McGrath’s first scoring bid before the Wolves forward tucked home the rebound.
The goal was the last surrendered by Lamothe in the series. The busy goalkeeper faced more than 200 shots over four games.
Conroy broke the ice for the Wolves just 1:51 into the game.
A scoring flurry resulted in three quick goals being scored late in the period.
Smith made it 2-0 at 15:51, before Ryan Patrick gave the Packers hope just 26 seconds later when he slid a Brayden Harvey pass past Wolves goaltender Matt Gagne.
But, just 34 ticks after that, Conroy restored Renfrew’s two-goal advantage.
Smith, for all intents and purposes, put the game on ice when he stuffed a neat close-in shot over Lamothe into the upper echelons with 4:11 remaining in the period.
The game got a bit rambunctious at times as the teams combined for 137 minutes in penalties, the most of any game in the series.
Packers captain Alex Serafini earned a major penalty for boarding the Wolves Sean Kyte behind the Arnprior net with 12:28 remaining.
Kyte was shaken up on the play, and teammate Matt McIntyre jumped in to scrap with Serafini. McIntyre was called for instigating, and both players were tossed for the duration.
Referee Eric Lasalle, knowing the situation in the series, followed his train orders and dealt out a series of 10-minute misconducts over the second and third periods to defuse things from getting out of control.
The Wolves outshot the Packers 40-26.
Wolves coach Tony Iob said his team accomplished what it set out to do.
“I think we played very well as a team. Our goal was to get out, get shots, get to the net, and most importantly, play as a team and we definitely did that.”
Iob said a series with the Perth Blue Wings would be a good one for teams and spectators alike.
“I think it’s going to be a very good series. They’re a very skilled team, and we are a skilled team as well, so it should be an exciting round of hockey.”
Around the loop
Perth’s wins over Stittsville have come by 5-3, 6-3 and 6-2 margins.
The Ottawa West Golden Knights topped the Ottawa Canadians 4-1 Saturday to claim a 2-1 lead in their Metro Division series.
The Clarence Creek Castors lead the Gatineau Mustangs 3-0 in games entering the fourth meeting in Clarence this afternoon.
The Akwesasne Wolves reeled off their third win in a row, 3-2 in overtime over the Char-Lan Rebels to take a 3-2 lead in their St. Lawrence Division semifinal.
Meanwhile, the Brockville Tikis upended the Athens Aeros 3-1 to snare a 3-2 edge in that series in the Rideau loop.
The other remaining Rideau series was idle last night. The Westport Rideaus lead the Gananoque Islanders.
All three Rideau-St. Lawrence Conference series resumed today.
The defending Eastern Ontario Junior Hockey League champion Casselman Vikings swept the Winchester Hawks aside in the other opening-round series.