Skinner scores late as Saints finally nab first win

Chris Quigley
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Stephenville High Spartans' George Young stickhandles the puck into St. James Regional High Saints' territory at a West Coast High School Hockey game in the Stephenville Dome on Tuesday evening.
— Star photo by Frank Gale

STEPHENVILLE  The wait is over for the St. James Regional High Saints.

The group has exhibited the patience of a, well, saint during this West Coast High School Hockey League campaign, as victory kept slipping from their grasp. To make matters worse, they’ve been stuck at 0-4-0 through two weeks of inactivity, with the inclement weather wreaking havoc with their schedule.

But Tuesday night was their night — finally — with a 6-5 triumph against the Stephenville High Spartans at the Stephenville Dome, though the Saints never really made it easy for themselves.

After jumping out to a 5-1 lead early in the third period, they watched helplessly as the Spartans roared back with four straight goals to tie the game.

Only a Corey Skinner goal with 21 seconds remaining saved them from the longest bus ride back to Port aux Basques in recorded history.

“Oh man, it was awesome,” said team captain Tristan Manstan of Skinner’s winner, which he assisted on. “We’ve been trying now for the past little while ... it feels pretty good to get that win.”

Nick Drover (2), Manstan, Tristan Butt and Jamie Gillam also scored in the victory.

Andrew Milley had two for the home team in the loss, while Devon Ryan, Trevor Snow and Nathan Philpott provided the other markers.

Michael Warren picked up the W in goal, with Francis Felix recording the somewhat unjust defeat. Felix had come in to relieve starter Jordi Green after the Saints’ fifth goal.

Milley opened the scoring for the Spartans at the three-minute mark of the opening frame, an unassisted tally.

Manstan replied before the end of the first, evening the game 1-1 with an unassisted goal of his own.

About five minutes into the second period, Butt struck from Drover to make it a 2-1 game for the Saints.

Drover increased the lead to 3-1 with five minutes remaining in the middle frame, assisted by Butt.

The second goal of the night from Drover, at 13:31 of the third, put the Saints up 4-1, before Gillam’s goal at the 12-minute mark made it 5-1.

Then the Spartans decided to make a game of it, with Snow starting the offensive outburst at 7:58, from William Bailey.

Devon Ryan followed suit at the five-minute mark, before Milley’s second of the night a minute later made it a 5-4 contest.

Philpott’s goal, with 1:29 remaining in the game, completed the comeback, albeit only temporarily.

Instead, it simply set the stage for Skinner to step up when his team needed him most.

Obviously, despite the happy ending, the near-disaster in the third period was the subject of almost as much discussion among the players as the victory itself.

“I think we stopped skating and we kind of figured we were going to win because we were up by so many goals,” Manstan said. “We still managed to keep our heads in it and score that last goal to win the game.

“But we were pretty frustrated there,” he added.

At least there was a lesson to be learned, one which may lead to more victories now that everyone has seen the proof of its existence.

“We just need to keep skating and go hard with it,” said Manstan.

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

Gros Morne Academy Panthers 4, Corner Brook Regional High Titans 3

Luke Parsons scored the unassisted game-winner in the third period, as the Panthers dropped the Titans for the second time in a row.

Jamie Reid, Mateo Gill and Nathan Ellsworth also lit the lamp in the win, while Parsons, Shannon Moores (2), Jeffrey Anderson, Scott Samms and Robert Gill recorded assists.

Ryan Hobbs, Sam Brake and Matt Colbourne mustered the offence for the Titans, who have now lost three of their last four games.

Colbourne, Andrew Taylor and Daniel Curtis picked up the helpers.

Jonah Reid backstopped the victory, as Matthew Collins came out on the losing end.

As the league enters its holiday hiatus until Jan. 6, the Elwood High Lakers have risen to the top of the standings at 5-2-0, followed by the Titans at 5-3-0. The Panthers sit in third at 4-3-0, with the Spartans behind them at 2-5-0. The Saints remain in the basement with a 1-4-0 record.

Organizations: Stephenville High Spartans, West Coast High School Hockey League, Stephenville Dome Panthers Gros Morne Academy Panthers

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