CORNER BROOK The Stephenville High Spartans will not go gentle into that good night.
That much should be abundantly clear to the Corner Brook Regional High Titans after Game 1 of their West Coast High School Hockey League best-of-three semifinal series Wednesday night at the Kinsmen Arena II.
Even though the Titans eked out a 4-3 overtime victory, thanks to a goal from Matt Colbourne with just over a minute remaining in the extra frame, the underdog Spartans played perhaps their best game of the year when it mattered most, surely making the Titans sweat a little in the process.
Scott Delaney had a pair of goals for the Corner Brook contingent in the win, while Daniel Whitten added a single marker.
Tyler Cornect, Logan McIsaac and Nathan Philpott replied for the Spartans.
With a record of 10-1-1, the Titans were easily the top team in the league this year, while the 2-9-1 Spartans only managed to lock down the fourth and final playoff spot after a St. James Regional High Saints loss to the Elwood High Lakers in the final game of the regular season.
“I think we came in a little overconfident,” conceded Titans goaltender Luke House. “It turned out to be a little harder than we thought.
“We ended up winning though,” he added. “That’s all that matters.”
Though House gave the Spartans credit, he believes the reason the game was so close had more to do with the way his team played.
“We started off slower than we usually do,” he said. “We took them for granted.”
House acknowledged he and his teammates had a few butterflies in the stomach as they awaited the overtime period, knowing that anything could happen at that point, but they were still confident they could come up with the dagger.
“We played pretty well in overtime,” he said. “We just tried to keep it simple.”
After the heartbreaking ending, the Spartans could either be buoyed by their strong effort or deflated by the end result. It seems they chose to focus on the positives.
“We’re the fourth-place team in the league,” said Cornect. “Coming out with an OT loss really gets our heads up for the next game.”
The Stephenville High squad didn’t have much luck against the Titans over the course of the regular campaign, but Cornect said the playoff atmosphere seemed to inspire them, especially as they quickly erased a two-goal deficit in the third period.
“We played a dump-and-chase game, a better hard-working game than we had before,” he said. “I believe in our team ... I really think we can beat those guys and I think we proved it’s possible tonight.”
Game 2 of the series is slated for Tuesday night in Stephenville, where Cornect expects to see a similar push from his team.
“I don’t think we have to do anything differently,” he said. “Just play a little bit harder and put a few more pucks in the back of the net.”
The other semifinal series between the second-place Lakers (7-2-3) and third-ranked Gros Morne Academy Panthers (4-3-5) begins Monday night.
Titans 4, Spartans 3 (OT)
1) 8:48 — Scott Delaney, Titans (unassisted)
2) 5:41 — Logan McIsaac, Spartans (Ian MacDonald, Tyler Cornect)
3) 4:52 — Daniel Whitten, Titans (unassisted)
4) 11:54 — Delaney, Titans (Matt Colbourne, Tyler Lavers)
5) 9:24 — Nathan Philpott, Spartans (unassisted)
6) 7:54 — Cornect, Spartans (MacDonald, Geoffrey Pike)
7) 1:22 — Colbourne, Titans (Christian Hobbs, Dylan Sceviour)
Goalies: Luke House (W),
Ryan Saunders (L)