Panthers hand Titans first loss of high school hockey campaign

Chris Quigley
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Lakers edge Spartans in Deer Lake

Corner Brook Regional High Titans’ Mike McWhirter, right, and Robert Gill of the Gros Morne Academy Panthers chase the puck during play Monday at the Kinsmen Arena II.

CORNER BROOK  The Gros Morne Academy Panthers just wanted to keep it simple.

By scoring two late goals in a span of a minute and 15 seconds, they made stealing a win on the road against the Corner Brook Regional High School Titans at the Kinsmen Arena II look pretty easy.

Shannon Moores struck twice for the victors on Monday night, while Luke Parsons and Nathan Ellsworth put up single markers. Parsons’ goal was the eventual game-winner.

Matt Colbourne and Mike McWhirter replied for the Titans, who suffered their first defeat of the West Coast High School Hockey League season.

Jonah Reid was the winning goaltender, while Tyler Gardner was charged with the defeat.

“Get the puck out of our end and on their net,” Parsons said of his side’s strategy. “We knew a win on the road would definitely be big.”

It was the first meeting of the new season between last year’s finalists. The Panthers prevailed then too, taking the championship after a Game 3 overtime win in Corner Brook. Parsons potted that game-winner as well.

“We weren’t sure what to expect,” Parsons said. “We knew they still had a pretty good team.”

McWhirter opened the scoring for the Titans at 6:34 of the first period. Nick O’Connell picked up the lone assist.

Ellsworth evened it for the Panthers at 5:25 of the first, with Moores and Mateo Gill assisting.

The Panthers pulled ahead with 10:46 on the clock in the second, when Moores buried his first of the evening. Jeff Anderson recorded the helper.

A little over two minutes later, at 8:41, Colbourne knotted the game again, from Andrew Sacrey and Ryan Gillam.

The score remained tied 2-2 until the 4:02-mark of the third period, with Parsons scoring from Gill to give his side the one-goal edge.

Moores added his second goal at 2:47, from Ellsworth, to put the Titans away.

“We knew we had to get a goal,” said Parsons of the late, two-goal outburst. “We got some positive momentum going.”

Obviously a road win over the previously unbeaten Titans bodes well for the Panthers’ chances moving forward, but Parsons wasn’t about to accept any crowns just yet.

“It’s a bit early to say anything,” he said. “But I thought we played really good tonight.”

Titans goaltender Gardner wasn’t thrilled with how his team started the game, but thought they picked it up in the second and third.

“Our first period we were kind of lazy,” he said.

That, combined with the high energy level of the Panthers, made things difficult for he and his teammates.

“Their forechecking was tough to handle,” he said. “Their forwards are really fast.”

He attributed the two late goals to a couple of unfortunate defensive breakdowns and seemed confident the team would get back on track.

“We’ll rebound,” he said.

The following is a summary of the other league game on Monday night:

Elwood High Lakers 3, Stephenville High Spartans 1

All the offence came in the third period in this one, as Jalen Gillard scored twice and registered an assist for the home team in the win.

Josh Oake provided the other goal.

Cody White was the lone marksman for the Spartans.

Tristan Moss earned the win between the pipes, with the loss going to Tyler McKay.

The Titans remain atop the league standings at 4-1-0, with the Lakers following them closely at 3-1-0. The Panthers improve to 2-2-0 on the year, while the Spartans fall to 1-3-0. The St. James Regional High Saints are 0-3-0 so far.

Organizations: Panthers, Lakers, Gros Morne Academy Panthers Corner Brook Regional High School Titans West Coast High School Hockey League

Geographic location: Deer Lake, Corner Brook

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