A crowd of 500-plus was treated to another barnburner Friday night at the Ma-Te-Way Activity Centre.
Backing the defence.
Renfrew Timberwolves goaltender Matt Gagne peers through a crowd as team captain Jesse Riopelle moves out to thwart a shot from the Perth Blue Wings’ Gordon Sinclair (16) during game four of the Valley Division final Friday night. Renfrew won the game 5-2 to grab a 3-1 lead in the best-of-seven series.
Peter Clark, Renfrew Mercury
What they witnessed was a 5-2 win by the home side as the Renfrew Timberwolves prevailed over the Perth Blue Wings to take a three games to one lead in their Eastern Ontario Junior Hockey League Valley Division championship series.
5-2 might sound convincing, but the game hung in the balance until the Wolves unlocked a 2-2 deadlock with three unanswered goals well into the third period.
The Renfrew onslaught came after the Blue Wings had erased a 2-0 deficit with goals in the first six minutes of the final stanza.
Wolves 5, Blue Wings 2
Colin Bradbury had a pair of markers, including the game winner, to pace the Renfrew attack.
Ryan Eady, Matt McIntyre and Patrick McGrath added solos.
Blair Barr and Tanner Knight responded for Perth.
The Wolves carried their 2-0 lead into the third session on the strength of solo markers in each of the first two periods.
As a tense opening session drew to a close, Eady got in behind Perth defenders and rifled a high drive past goalkeeper Jeremy Wright on the breakaway.
The goal came with 25 seconds showing on the clock.
McIntyre counted the lone goal of the middle period when he outworked the opposition off a Lyle Stressman setup at 3:13.
It wasn’t through lack of effort that neither side could score again throughout the second period.
Wright and his Renfrew counterpart shone during the remaining 17 minutes in a wide-open period that saw a combined 36 shots on goal, 19 by the Blue Wings.
Matt Gagne’s stage included breakaway stops off Perth snipers Barr and Brett Madigan.
On another occasion, Wolves blueliner Dylan Zavitske made the defensive play of the game when he dove to knock the puck off Madigan’s stick to prevent a breakaway, without tripping the Blue Wings forward.
The Blue Wings came out flying in the third period, and tied things up in a hurry.
Barr scored a beauty when he beat the Wolves defence wide and stuffed the puck high over Gagne at 3:19.
Knight tied it on a quick shot less than three minutes later.
But while they bent, the Wolves didn’t break.
They regained the lead with 10:04 remaining when Bradbury poked the puck past Wright on a Renfrew powerplay.
In terms of key points of the game, the next was vital.
During a Perth powerplay, Wright endeavoured to feed the puck up to the forwards, but didn’t get good wood on the pass.
The puck slid right to the stick of McGrath, who beat Wright for Renfrew’s fourth shorthanded goal of the series – one per game.
The goal came with 7:50 left.
However, the Blue Wings got another chance with a two-man advantage for over a minute, but couldn’t penetrate the Wolves penalty killers.
With time winding down, Bradbury notched his second goal of the night off a Jesse Riopelle feed.
Final shots on goal read 39-38 in Renfrew’s favour.
Wolves defenceman Erik Mask was presented with the Paul Poupore Award for hockey and scholastic prior to the game.
The award is in memory of Junior B Lions player Paul Poupore of Pembroke, killed tragically in an accident while returning home after a practice in the late 1970s.
Metro Valley president Ron McRostie made the presentation to Mask.
Sean Kyte and Brennan Hephin returned to the Wolves lineup after missing time with injuries.
However, a lower body injury put Drew Anderson on the sidelines for the game.
The Blue Wings Brett Madigan played through tough circumstances as his grandfather passed away earlier in the week.
The series continues Sunday night in Perth at 7:42 p.m.
A win would land the Wolves their second Valley Division title in three years and 12th in team history.
However, the Blue Wings finished first for a reason, and won’t bow out quietly.
• Friday, March 1 - Renfrew 5, Perth 3;
• Sunday, March 3 - Renfrew 7, Perth 4;
• Wednesday, March 6 - Perth 3, Renfrew 2;
• Friday, March 8 - Renfrew 5, Perth 2;
• 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.
Around the loop
The Ottawa Junior Canadians are out to a quick 2-0 series lead in the Metro Division championship series.
The Canadians won the opener 5-4 on Stephen Fullum’s goal 15:36 into overtime at the Brian Kilrea Arena Tuesday night.
South Ottawa overcame a 2-0 deficit and later snapped a 3-3 deadlock in the third period en route to a 6-4 win in game two at Clarence Creek.
The best-of-seven series continues tonight (Saturday) night in Ottawa at the Brian Kilrea (Canterbury) Arena.
They then have the quick turnaround with game four Sunday afternoon at Clarence Creek. So it could be a four-game sweep or tied 2-2 in a hurry.
The Akwesasne Wolves have taken to 2-1 games lead on last year’s EOJHL champs, the Casselman Vikings, in the St. Lawrence Division final.
The Wolves stunned the Vikings on a shorthanded goal in double overtime in Casselman Thursday night.
Sylvester Bzdyl connected with Akwesasne down a man at the 7:23 mark of the second extra period.
Game four is Saturday night on the Island.
Turnabout is fair play.
After losing two games by the same 4-1 margin, the Gananoque Islanders walked into Athens and beat the Aeros 4-1 Friday night.
Athens’ lead has been cut to two games to one going back to Gananoque Sunday evening.