CORNER BROOK It was a likely scenario anyway, but the Corner Brook Regional High Titans made sure they took care business themselves.
The West Coast High School Hockey League club needed a win over the Elwood High Lakers at the Kinsmen Arena II on Wednesday night in order to prevent the Lakers from having any chance of catching them for first place in the standings.
In the end, the Corner Brook contingent did just that, cruising to a 9-4 victory over their rivals from Deer Lake.
Getting a total team effort must have been the subject of the pre-game pep talk, as the Titans got goals from Scott Delaney, Devon Fitzpatrick, Daniel Whitten, Neil Rideout, Dylan Sceviour, Ryan Gillam, Christian Hobbs, Andrew Taylor and Matt Colbourne in the win.
Derian Gould, Cody O’Neil, Jalen Gillard and Jared Bartlett replied for the Lakers.
Gavin Luffman was the winning goalkeeper, with Isaiah Simms taking the loss.
“I think it was a great team effort,” said Titans coach Darren Colbourne. “This was a big game for us against a team that beat us before.”
The Titans had a 7-1 lead after two periods of play, before the Lakers managed to make them sweat a little in the third.
“We played well defensively, even though we had a few lapses when we were up by a big score and let our guard down a little bit,” Colbourne said. “That’s a lesson learned.
“(The Lakers) can score a lot of goals if given the opportunity.”
One of the biggest factors in the victory may have come late — extremely late, actually — in the first period, when Whitten scored with one second left on the clock, with Zach Hiscock and Christian Hobbs doing the spadework behind the net.
That marker gave them a two-goal lead heading into the second period, instead of just a one-goal advantage.
“It was a huge goal,” said Colbourne. “There was seven seconds left with the puck at the red-line, but we got the puck deep and never stopped working.
“Hobbs and Hiscock worked hard to get the puck out and Whitten stuffed it home,” he added. “Being up 3-1 instead of 2-1 is a totally different scenario.”
The Titans finish up with a 10-1-1 record on the year for first place, while the Lakers fall to 5-2-3. The Gros Morne Academy Panthers are in third at 4-3-4, with the Stephenville High Spartans (2-8-0) and St. James Regional High Saints (1-7-2) are tied for the fourth and final playoff spot.
Three games remain, all slated to be played next week, in the regular season schedule — the Saints will face the Lakers, the Lakers will battle the Spartans and the Spartans will line up against the Panthers, so there can still be a fair bit of shuffling in the standings behind the Titans heading into the post-season.
Thanks to Wednesday night’s effort, the Titans can kick back and watch the fireworks.
“It’s a great feeling to finish the season with one loss,” Colbourne said. “We’re happy going into the playoffs, but we’re not getting cocky.
“Any given game in this league, any team can win.”