Royals believe they can tame Cats: Barbour

Dave Kearsey
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If you believe, you can achieve.

That’s how Justin Barbour feels about the challenge that lies ahead of him and his Western Royals teammates.

The Royals will need to come up big on home ice, facing a 2-0 deficit in the Newfoundland and Labrador Senior Hockey League West Division best-of-seven final series.

“We’re all optimistic here. We think we can do it and that’s the main thing. Everybody in the room believes it and that’s all you need,” Barbour said when asked if the Royals can overcome the deficit.

The top-seed Cataracts won the first two games of the series — 4-3 in overtime in the opener and 5-2 in Game 2 — at Joe Byrne Memorial Stadium last weekend.

Barbour, winner of the West Division Most Sportsminded and Effective Player, said the mood was upbeat after Game 2.

“The mood stayed positive. There was no negativity around the room,” he said. “We know we can beat them because we did it three times in the regular season.”

He believes the series opener was a great game of hockey and felt it could have went either way. However, he gave the Cats full marks for setting the tone early in Game 2 with a solid forecheck and physical hockey.

“They came out harder and they kind of played our game,” Barbour said during a break from his teaching internship at Bishop’s College in St. John’s Wednesday.

“They were dumping, they were hitting and we got away from that, so if we can bring that back to the table in Deer Lake we will be fine.”

He said getting more pucks and traffic in front of Cataracts goaltender A.J. Whiffen is certainly something he wants to see this weekend, but he also sees a need for the team to make life miserable for some of the big guns leading the green machine.

“We’re giving some of their more skilled guys way too much space,” he said. “We’re giving guys like (Cam) Fergus and (Robbie) Hennigar too much time with the puck to make the play. They were breaking out of their zone way too easy and we just have to clog up the neutral zone a bit better and go at them harder.”

It’s a tough test having to win four out of the next five to earn a trip to the Herder final, but Barbour sees teams in the NHL playoffs coming back to win series after losing the first two games.

But, he insists, the Royals can’t afford to lose tonight’s contest.

“We have to come out hard and get on the scoreboard first,” he said. “We need that first one. It’s a must-win.”

Game 3 goes tonight 7:30 p.m., while Game 4 is slated for Sunday 2 p.m. at the Hodder Memorial Recreation Complex in Deer Lake.

Organizations: Newfoundland and Labrador Senior Hockey League West Division, NHL, Game 4

Geographic location: Deer Lake, Joe Byrne Memorial Stadium

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