Gander Flyers earn a big point to move out of cellar
© Chris Ballard
Cory Blackmore of the Western Royals scores his first of two goals against Roger Kennedy in an 8-5 loss to the Clarenville Caribous in Newfoundland Senior Hockey League play Sunday, Jan. 13, 2013 at the Clarenville Events Centre. Caribous defenceman Adam Hill is helpless on the play.
CORNER BROOK — It might be the biggest point of the season for the Gander Flyers.
The Flyers earned a single point in a 4-3 shootout loss to the Grand Falls-Windsor Cataracts Sunday at Joe Byrne Memorial Stadium to move into sole possession of the fourth and final playoff spot in the Newfoundland Senior Hockey League.
The Cats won the opening game of the two-game set 5-4 Saturday night at the Gander Community Centre as the two central-based franchises played a rare home-and-home series.
While the Flyers move one point ahead of the idle Eastlink CeeBee Stars, the shootout victory meant the Cataracts clinched top spot in the overall standings and will have home-ice advantage in the playoffs.
On Sunday, Shane Boland’s second goal of the game late in the third period forced the two teams to decide the winner in shootout fashion.
Chad Locke also scored for the Flyers in regulation time.
Scoring leader Andre Gill, Chris Peach and Ryan Graham scored for the Cats in regulation time.
Doug Jewer, in his first start since being acquired from the Western Royals via trade route, picked up the goaltending win against counterpart Pat O’Brien.
Meanwhile, Wes Welcher had a two-goal game to lead the Cats to victory Saturday night.
Cody Roach, Ryan Graham and Sam Hounsell rounded out the scoring parade for the Cataracts.
Steve Pearson, Chad Locke and Tyler Whitehead scored for the Flyers.
In the meantime, the 8-10 Western Royals find themselves in sole possession of third place after coming up empty on a two-game road trip east against the second-place Caribous.
The Royals lost 8-5 Sunday afternoon and 6-3 Saturday night as Caribous back-up Roger Kennedy outduelled Royals import puckstopper Bryan Gillis in two entertaining games at the Clarenville Events Centre.
Matt Bragg notched a hat trick and Dustin Russell had a two-goal performance as the Caribous dumped the Royals Sunday afternoon. David Victor, Jordan Smith and Andrew Sweetland rounded out the scoring parade for the herd.
Cory Blackmore had a two-goal outing for the Royals in a losing effort. Mark Robinson, Ryan Penney and Scott Doody also scored for the Royals, who have six more games left on the schedule with four of them road games.
Saturday night, the Royals held a 3-2 advantage heading into the final stanza, but the Caribous erupted for four unanswered goals in the third to stymie any chances of the Royals moving past them in the standings.
Matt Bragg had a two-goal game to lead the charge for the Caribous in Saturday’s contest.
Andrew Sweetland, Dustin Russell, Dale Sullivan and Jordan Smith also dented the twine for the herd.
Justin Barbour scored twice for the Royals, while the other goal came off the stick of Ryan Penney.
The Royals will head to Harbour Grace this weekend for a two-game showdown with the cellar-dwelling Stars at the S. W. Moores Memorial Stadium. The CeeBee Stars trail the Flyers by a single point in the battle for the last playoff berth, while the Royals hold a five-point spread over the two chasers in the race.
The other weekend showdown will see the Flyers try to gain ground on the pack with a two-game showdown with the Caribous at the friendly confines of the Gander Community Centre.