PORT AUX BASQUES, NL – They fought hard, and even drew first blood, but the Port aux Basques Mariners 2017-2018 season came to an end Friday night, March 2.
The Mariners lost 4-3 to the Deer Lake Red Wings, who took the best-of-five series in four games and will advance to take on the Corner Brook Royals in the next round of the West Coast Senior Hockey League playoffs.
Before the game, team captain Bruce Billard said the locker room was pretty loose, though he himself had a few butterflies.
“It’s an elimination game so you don’t play these every day. It’s a little bit different. There’s a lot on the line, so the nerves are there,” said Billard.
“Once the game starts and you get your first shift in, you don’t care about anything else and everything is fine, but leading up until that is nervous.”
Jody Kelly scored the game’s first goal at 12:24 of the first period. With only five seconds remaining in the period Deer Lake tied the game, however. Brett Robinson put the Mariners ahead again in the second, but Deer Lake tied it up again on the power play late in the period.
Shortly after the puck was dropped to start the third, Deer Lake finally took the lead, but the Mariners evened it up almost mid-way through the period. With less than four minutes left to play, Deer Lake scored the winning goal and held on despite a frantic push by the home team.
Despite the loss, coach Mark Lawrence couldn’t be prouder of his team.
“A great group of guys,” said Lawrence. “We’ve had some fun. We’ve got a good core.”
Lawrence believes that core has the team in a strong position going into next season.
“Every year you’re always looking to build on for next year and I think we’ve done a great job of that this year,” he said.
Team president Shannon Battiste said the fans have played an important role in the Mariners’ success this year. He’s hoping that support will continue to grow next season as well.
“All in all, it’s been pretty good,” said Battiste. “Fan support, like buying caps and jerseys and everything, (has) been great this year.”