By Craig Campbell, Dundas Star News
Jason Ward scored four points and goalie Mike Mole stopped 28 shots for the first shutout of the 2014 Allan Cup hockey tournament, as Dundas Real McCoys earned a spot in Saturday’s national championship final with a 4-0 win over Kenora Thistles, Friday night.
Saturday’s match-up between host Dundas and Newfoundland’s Clarenville Caribous brings together the top offences and goaltenders of the gruelling, week-long amateur men’s hockey championship tournament.
Friday night started slow, with both Kenora and Dundas missing scoring opportunities. The period ended with no score.
At 9:06 of the second period – more than half the game done – Ward grabbed the puck and burst into Kenora’s zone ahead of the opposing defence. He threw the puck past Kenora goalie Ryan Person for the 1-0 lead.
“They’re a very good defensive team,” Ward said after the game. “They’re very patient. They make you work for your chances.”
Ward figured that first goal was big for the Real McCoys.
“I don’t think we played a bad first period. In the second period we capitalized on our chances,” he said.
Ward credited Mole – who was named Dundas’ player of the game – for controlling his rebounds well, and said the whole team played well in front of their goalie.
Dundas spent most of the second period’s final few minutes buzzing around Kenora’s end. With just over a minute left to play in the frame, Ryan Christie banged away at a puck in the crease, and made it 2-0.
Christie added another goal early in the third period, assisted by Ward and Nick Smith on a power play.
Mole made a few big saves on a Kenora power play mid-way through the third period. With five minutes left to play, Simon Mangos scored Dundas’ fourth goal. Ward and Smith picked up assists.
Earlier Friday, Clarenville overpowered defending Allan Cup champion Bentley Generals of Alberta 5-1, to punch their ticket to the Allan Cup final for the second straight year. Clarenville lost to Bentley 3-0 in the final last year. The Newfoundlanders won the Allan Cup in 2011.
Bentley actually got on the scoreboard first, taking a 1-0 lead off a Sean Robertson power play goal. Assists went to Curtis Austring and Chris Neismet.
The Generals struggled to score goals all week – finding the net just six times in their previous three games. And against Clarenville goalie Jason Churchill, the lone first period goal was all they would get Friday afternoon.
Bentley outshot Clarenville 35 to 27, but Churchill and the Caribous defence weren’t giving an inch.
Two minutes into the second period, Clarenville’s tournament leading offence stepped in as well.
Dale Sullivan, Chris Hulit, Dustin Russell and Cam Fergus all broke through Bentley’s defence and found the net behind Bentley goalie Travis Yonkman to take a 4-1 lead into the third period.
As if scoring three goals against Churchill and the Caribous wasn’t already hard enough, Bentley took four late third period penalties. Hulit scored his second of the game on a power play to make it 5-1. James Reid played the final period in net for Bentley.
“In the first period we came out a little slow,” Hulit said. “Maybe the off day had something to do with it. Maybe it was a mental thing against Bentley.”
He suggested the fact Clarenville did not score a single goal against Bentley in last year’s 3-0 Allan Cup final might have been affecting the Caribous offence. But when the broke the ice early in the second frame, the floodgates broke.
“They came out strong,” Hulit said of Bentley. “They’re a big, strong team and they came out hard. We tried to do what we could to get more pucks to the net.”
Bentley head coach Ryan Tobler said Clarenville was looking for opportunities to stretch Bentley’s defence with their speed throughout the game.
“That skill is hard to contain for 60 minutes,” Tobler said.
Clarenville heads into the Allan Cup final with four of the tournament’s top seven scorers. Cam Fergus and Peter Campbell each have seven points. Ryan Desrosiers has five points, and Hulit has four goals in three games.
Dundas has three of the tournament’s top seven scorers. Ryan Christie has three goals and six points. Jason Ward has six points and Nick Smith has five points.
Luke Gallant of Clarenville and Simon Mangos each have four points heading into Saturday’s final.
But both offences will have their work cut out for them, facing the top two goalies in the Allan Cup this year.
Dundas’ Mike Mole has given up five goals in three games, made 81 saves and has a 1.67 goals against average.
Clarenville’s Jason Churchill has also given up five goals in three games. He’s made 88 saves, and has a 1.68 goals against average.
Clarenville leads all teams with 16 goals. Dundas is second with 14 goals. Both have given up just five goals.