The St. John’s Privateers head home today after a respectable showing at the 1st Annual Chronicle Herald East Coast Ice Jam held in the Halifax suburb of Hammonds Plains at the sparkling new BMO Centre.
The Privateers opened the tournament with a 3-1 loss against perennial rival Halifax Titans on Wednesday. The teams pounded on each other the entire night in front of a packed house at the BMO Centre. Goaltending was spectacular at both ends and neither team would give an inch as Chris Smith and Jacob Dempsey traded spectacular saves. Special teams were the difference in this game as the Titans scored twice on separate 5-3 man advantages.
The tournament continued with a gritty 4-2 victory over the South Shore Mustangs Thursday afternoon. The Privateers were evidently emotionally exhausted after a draining game the night before and willed out a win over the Mustangs who were playing their first game of the tournament. Mitchell Puddester stood tall in the Privateers net early in the game until the team found its legs in the second half and willed out the win.
In a must win third game versus the Cape Breton Tradesmen, the Privateers jumped out to a 4-0 lead in the first period. However, as is the trademark of Cape Breton teams, they battled back in the second and the score was 4-2 heading to the third. The Tradesmen scored early in the period, closing the gap to 4-3, however Brett Vokey responded soon after and the game ended 5-3.
In the playoff round, the Privateers faced the hard working Miramichi Rivermen in a Wild Card game Saturday afternoon with a date with the Moncton Flyers in the Quarterfinal Round on the line. In a classic goaltender’s battle, Mitch Puddester and Daniel Vatour made save after save, sending the game to overtime tied at 1. The Privateers found themselves in penalty trouble late in the game and it cost them as Samuel Castonguay buried a rebound on the PP, sending the Privateers home.
Overall, the tournament was a positive experience for the Privateers who continue to build towards an 11th consecutive NLMMHL Championship and a return trip to the Atlantic Championship being held April 4-7 in Moncton, NB. Head Coach Doug Jackman offered some comments on the games this week and the season overall.
“I thought the Halifax game was played with great intensity and was a chance for both teams to prove they are still contenders at the regional level. The game could have gone either way and unfortunately for us, they came out on top. I thought we found a way to win the South Shore game even though we probably didn’t have our ‘A’ game and the game against the Tradesmen was a good win for us because we had some injuries that shortened our bench but some guys stepped up and propelled us to the playoffs.”
“Against Miramichi we controlled the game early but their goalie was very good. We beat down the net and he held them in. They found their legs in the third and we were undisciplined toward the end of the game. Unfortunately, that ended up costing us as they scored on a power play in overtime. We met as a group after the game and addressed what we felt was an uncharacteristically undisciplined weekend for our team. We spent a lot of time in the penalty box and, ultimately, it cost us our tournament. The players recognize that and recognize that the margin between winning and losing at this level is very slim. Every decision they make has the potential to tip the balance.
The good news is that we can play with any team here five on five. It gives us a great deal of confidence heading down the stretch in the NLMMHL and we look forward to reaching our goal of playing in the Championship Game at the Atlantics in Moncton.”