GM3: Wolves eliminate Majors from GNML playoffs

The Timmins Majors’ Mission Improbable proved to be Mission Impossible, after all.

Share Adjust Comment Print

SUDBURY — The Timmins Majors’ Mission Improbable proved to be Mission Impossible, after all.

After taking down the Nickel Capital Wolves 3-2 in double overtime Saturday night to even up their best-of-three Great North Midget League playoff series at 1-1, the Majors were eliminated Sunday afternoon, dropping a 4-1 decision at the Gerry McCrory Countryside Arena.

Majors coach Brandon Perry was naturally disappointed to see his team eliminated from the playoffs, but at the same time he was proud of the effort they put forth in the three-game series.

“They played really well and it is unfortunate how things had to end,” he said.

“It was just a matter of them (the Wolves) being able to call up three players (Zacharie Giroux, Mitchell Martin and Christopher Innes) from one of the best minor midget programs in the province.

“That was a big factor. They scored three of their four goals in Sunday’s game. If they didn’t have access to those minor midget players, the series would have been over in two games, with us winning.”

Indeed, the Wolves did not have access to those three players for Saturday night’s contest and the Majors earned a double-overtime victory.

In Sunday afternoon’s contest, the two teams exchanged first-period goals — with Giroux putting the Wolves on the scoreboard at the 14:38 mark and the Majors answering with a power-play marker a minute and a half later.

It was the second goal of the playoffs for both players.

The Wolves took a lead they would not surrender in the second period, with Martin finding the back of the net for his first of two goals in the contest and his initial tally of the 2019 playoffs.

The Majors might have found themselves in an even bigger hole heading to the third period, but goalie Dylan Dallaire denied Innes on a penalty-shot attempt with 25 seconds remaining in the frame.

That stop gave the Majors a little bit of momentum heading into the third period, but they were unable to capitalize on it.

Martin’s second goal of the game and playoffs, at the 3:49 mark of the frame, provided the Wolves with a little breathing room and extended their advantage to a pair of goals.

“It was just a good play by their guy,” Perry said.

“He is a hell of a hockey player and I wouldn’t be surprised if he goes in the Top 2 rounds of the OHL draft (Priority Selection). He made a good move cutting around the dot. He has a wicked shot and he beat Dylan with it from the high slot.

“We had our chances after that. It wasn’t like we ran out of gas. We had two or three breakaways in that third period, there were goal-mouth scrambles and we hit a couple of posts. It easily could have gone our way.

“Our guys fought right to the end.”

Jean Giguere’s first goal of the playoffs, with 4:11 remaining in regulation, turned out to be the final nail in the Majors’ coffin and made the final score 4-1 in favour of the home side.

“That fourth goal was kind of a back-breaker,” Perry said.

“It was kind of a weird goal. It was a shot from the point and it beat Dylan through the legs. I don’t know if it got faintly tipped just a little bit. I don’t know what happened, but that one was a killer.”

Regardless of how that goal got past him, Dallaire was solid for the Majors in all three games of the series.

“He really gave us a chance to win every game,” Perry said.

Down three goals and shorthanded, the Majors didn’t even get an opportunity to pull the goalie at the end of the contest.

There was no shortage of Majors players who impressed their coach on the weekend.

“Jesse Dupuis and his line with Joel (Martin) and Sabastian (Sutherland) was really good all weekend,” Perry said.

“Carson (Cavalieri), Brennen (Martel) and Garrett (Gelinas) had a lot of fight in Saturday night’s game and they were working hard on the forecheck and the cycle, down low.

“Landon Deforge was great, all series and all season. He was incredible.

“I feel Cameron Dutkiewicz is one of the best defencemen in the league and he played very well in the series. He got hit really bad and really late in the first period and he had to leave the game on a stretcher.

“That sucked. We were tied 1-1 in the first period and our best player was out after what I felt was a late hit. It wasn’t a dirty hit, but it was late and three feet from the boards.

“He carries a big load for us, especially on the back end. He was our leading scorer all season and to lose him after struggling to score goals all season in a pivotal game was really tough.”

Suffering from a lower-body injury, Dutkiewicz was release from hospital in Sudbury and accompanied the Majors back to Timmins.

Perry noted the defenceman was likely going to seek additional medical care after returning home.

“He was in a lot of pain,” he said.

Owen Kilganon went the distance in net for the Wolves to pick up his second win of the playoffs.

Majors goalie Dylan Dallaire was tagged with the loss.

MAJORS 3 WOLVES 2 DOUBLE-OT

Dupuis’ first goal of the playoffs at the 7:17 mark of the second overtime period lifted the Majors to a 3-2 victory over the Wolves at the Garson Arena Saturday night and extended the series to a third game.

“We just played well,” Perry said.

“It was a small little rink in Garson, with a tiny neutral zone. So, we had our D get up on their forwards and we didn’t let anybody get in behind us. We put a lot of pressure on their forwards and made them ice a lot of pucks.

“They just kept trying to make stretch passes and we did a really good job with our gaps. We had guys doing a good job on the forecheck and winning puck battles down low in the offensive zone.

“We played a hard game, it went to five periods and we found a way. We had a penalty shot (taken by Dupuis) in the first OT. We missed, but it is funny how sometimes the hockey gods kind of reward you.

“We didn’t get the bounces in Game 1 (a 4-3 loss at the McIntyre Arena Wednesday) even though we thought we were the better team.

“Then, Jesse Dupuis misses that penalty shot and then he scores the winner with some luck behind the net. He was behind the goal line and tried to make a little pass or half shot. I don’t know how it squeaked in between the goalie’s stick and the post, or skate and the post.

“Jesse had an incredible game and he had been beating himself up over missing that penalty shot, then to see that puck go in was very exciting.”

Nicholas Faught’s second goal of the playoffs gave the Wolves a 1-0 lead at the 1:26 mark of the opening period.

The Majors battled back to tie things up prior to the end of the frame, however, with Sutherland netting his first goal of the playoffs.

Defenceman Jeremy Jeffries’ power-play marker, his first goal of the playoffs, then gave the Majors a 2-1 lead in the middle frame.

That goal held up until the 10:20 mark of the third period, when Bradey Smith’s power-play tally, his second goal of the playoffs, tied things up and set the stage for Dupuis’ double-overtime heroics.

Dallaire went the distance in net to record the victory for the Majors, while Kilganon was tagged with the loss for the Wolves.

Heading forward, the Majors have a number of players eligible to return to the roster for the 2019-20 GNML campaign, although they will lose to some key individuals, including both Dallaire and fellow netminder Connor Johnson.

On the blue-line, Jeremy Jeffries, Nicholas Tremblay, Gavin Martel, Keaston Blais and Mason Berthiaume are all eligible to return.

Up front, those young enough to return to the roster include Sutherland, Dupuis, Deforge, Desmond Brazeau and Pierre Racicot.

“We are going to be young,” Perry said.

“The guys were are going to lose are all going to be hard to replace, but Dylan is going to be especially hard. He has been outstanding for us the last two seasons. It is hard to win in this league, or any league, without solid goaltending.”

Perry, who is completing his second season behind the Majors bench, is grateful for all the support the team has received.

“It was an extremely challenging year, with a lot of ups and downs, but I am extremely proud of this group,” he said.

The other GNML first-round series saw the Major Thunderbirds double up the New Liskeard Cubs 6-3 in Sault Ste. Marie on Sunday to take that best-of-three series 2-1.

In the second round, the North Bay Major Trappers — who went a perfect 36-0-0-0 in the regular season — will take on the Thunderbirds, while the Kapuskasing Flyers will tangle with the Wolves.

By virtue of finishing first and second in the regular-season standings, North Bay and Kapuskasing had a bye in the opening round of the playoffs.

Comments