Renfrew Timberwolves hockey fans felt their team deserved a better fate than to be locked up in a 0-0 deadlock one period into their Eastern Ontario Junior Hockey League Valley Division championship series with the Perth Blue Wings Friday night.
That certainly changed in the second.
The Wolves came out of the blocks flying for period two. They netted four of the five goals scored the middle session en route to a 5-3 triumph over the regular-season division leaders in the Lanark County town.
Game two of the best-of-seven series is Sunday night in Renfrew. Game time at the Ma-Te-Way Activity Centre is 7:30 p.m.
Wolves 5, Blue Wings 3
Drew Anderson, Kurtis Leclaire, Colin Bradbury, and blueliners Lyle Stressman and Erik Mask supplied Renfrew goal production. Anderson, Jesse Riopelle and Ryan Eady added two assists.
Sniper Brett Madigan, Mike Smyth and Shawn McGillivray answered for Perth. Long-time Blue Wing Riley Kane chipped in with two helpers.
The teams skated through an opening period highlighted by the play of goaltenders Matt Gagne and Jeremy Wright, and the two teams’ penalty killing units.
Still, despite the goalless outcome, there were scoring chances aplenty.
The Wolves outshot the Blue Wings 13-11, and many of the scoring chances at both ends were good ones.
The middle stanza got off to a rousing start for Renfrew fans as Anderson converted a Riopelle set up after just 47 seconds.
Leclaire snapped home a rebound past a diving Wright to put Renfrew up 2-0 at 4:36.
Anderson and Riopelle earned assists.
Madigan brought the home crowd to its feet when he snapped home a Kane feed to put the Blue Wings on the board a couple of minutes later at 6:13..
Much of the second half of the game was dominated by speciality teams, as one team, then the other, took unnecessary, and often in the minds of fans, unwarranted trips to the penalty box.
Each team found itself two men short multiple times, and the crowd even got to witness some seldom seen 3-on-3 hockey for a spell in the third period.
Back to the second frame, the Wolves took a 3-1 lead on a fine shorthanded effort.
Eady and Bradbury combined to bottle the Blue Wings up, and Bradbury eventually tipped an Eady ice-cutter past Wright at 9:53.
The Wolves successfully executed a 5-on-3 manpower advantage to take a 4-1 lead at the 13:35 mark.
Stressman zipped a dart home from between the circles off feeds from the aforementioned Eady and Bradbury.
Perth twice drew to within two goals in the final stanza.
Smyth scored early while McGillivray connected on a powerplay with 7:26 remaining to give the home side a last ray of hope.
In-between, Mask pinched in from the point and one-timed a feed past a chanceless Wright on a Renfrew powerplay at 3:49.
The Wolves (13-21-15) outshot the Blue Wings (13-17-8) on the night 49-38.
Renfrew took 17 penalties and Perth 15.
Perth took the season series 4-2, including three one-goal victories on home ice.
The Wolves victories included a 7-3 win early in the season, and a 3-2 overtime decision in the teams’ last meeting in Renfrew Jan. 25.
Referee Martin Boucher appeared bent on not allowing the game to get out of hand in the third period Friday.
He called 14 minor penalties. Sometimes that strategy backfires.
Game two of the best-of-seven series is Sunday. Game time is 7:30 p.m. at the Ma-Te-Way Activity Centre.
Around the loop
After missing the playoffs last season, the Ottawa Junior Canadians are back in the Metro Division final in 2012-13.
The Junior Canadians got a pair of third-period goals from Taylor Collins to snap a 2-2 tie en route to a series-clinching 4-2 triumph over the Ottawa West Golden Knights Thursday.
The Canadians took the series by the same 4-2 margin.
Meanwhile, the Gatineau Mustangs ran a playoff winning streak to three games with a 5-4 win in Clarence Creek on Wednesday,
However, despite returning home for game 7, the Mustangs couldn’t seal the deal.
The Beavers struck for two goals in the second period, and survived a late Gatineau push to win 3-1.
Clarence Creek will now face the Junior Canadians for the Metro title.
The Rideau-St. Lawrence Conference playoffs resume with the opening games of the division final series Sunday night.
The Casselman Vikings host the Akwesasne Wolves in the battle for the St. Lawrence Division crown.
The Athens Aeros and Gananoque Islanders clash for the right to hoist the Rideau loop’s top hardware.
Dates for the entire Perth-Renfrew Valley Division final are as follows:
• Friday, March 1 - Renfrew 5, Perth 3;
• Sunday, March 3 in Renfrew - 7:30 p.m.;
• Wednesday, March 6 in Perth - 7:45 p.m.;
• Friday, March 8 in Renfrew - 8 p.m.;
• Sunday, March 10 in Perth - 7:45 p.m;
• Wednesday, March 13 in Renfrew - 8 p.m.;
• Friday, March 15 in Perth - 7:45 p.m.