It was two hard-fought games of hockey in Lantz Feb. 24 and 26, with the Royals winning 5-4 Friday and the Penguins 4-3 on Sunday.
Brian Naugle appeared to be a star in the Groundhog Day movie Sunday night as plays just kept happening over and over again. He finished the game with a -3 rating, although he did score the tying goal for the team.
Naugle seemed to fight the puck the entire night and then took a bad slashing penalty with less than two minutes to play in the game.
In fact, the Royals played the final 32.9 seconds of the third period short-handed after Nathan Little's slash and Windsor being assessed a minor penalty for too many men on the ice.
With 13 seconds left in the game, after a scuffle in front of the Royals net, the Royals’ Wesley Booth took a slashing minor, while the Penguins drew two minors for roughing after the whistle. As well Justin Campbell and Eric Thibodeau, both of the Penguins, and the Royals’ Jordan Morash all were handed 10-minute misconducts.
Before any of this took place, the Royals could not take advantage of a four-minute power-play they were given after an East Hants player was given a double minor for spearing. Naugle had his worst moment of the game when he had a clear opportunity to shoot the puck down the ice out his own end but ended up putting it on an East Hants defenseman's stick. That move allowed the Penguins to score the winning goal.
The Royals had a solid second period but with limited results. The team opened the scoring on a great give-and-go as Braden Mercier split the East Hants defense and slid the puck over to Austin Himmelman who backhanded a high shot to the goalie's left to make it 1-0 Royals.
The Penguins came back with a pair and it was 2-1 East Hants after the first period. Mark Swain did a tremendous amount of work behind the East Hants net before getting the puck out in front to J.F. Lefort to tie the game at 2.
The Royals picked up some momentum in the second period and had a number of good scoring opportunities. The Royals’ Jake Galbraith had a brilliant save made on him with 4:20 to play in the second period.
Despite all of the defensive problems, Naugle tied the game for the Royals at 3-3 with 13:07 to play in the third period after taking a pass from Jory Uhlman and Jeff Longaphy.
Friday night highlights
The second game of the series was end-to-end hockey with the Royals squeaking out a 5-4 win.
The Royals led 5-3 before East Hants closed to within one with 46 seconds showing on the clock in the third period.
The teams were tied 2-2 after 20 minutes and the Royals jumped in front 4-2 in the second period before taking a 4-3 lead after 40 minutes. The teams exchanged goals in the third.
The goal scorers for the Royals were David Hayes, Mercier, Uhlman, Himmelman and Ryan Getson. The Royals outshot East Hants 35-30.
Wednesday night highlights
In the opening game of the series, the Royals took a 1-0 lead early in the second period on a sensational goal by Mercier, who went in alone and scored short-handed.
The teams were tied 1-1 after 40 minutes but East Hants put it away in the third with a pair of goals, including the insurance marker from Matthew Doudelet with just 3:17 to go in regulation. East Hants outshot Windsor 34 -23.
Fans can catch Game 4 of the semi-finals in Windsor Feb. 29 at 7:45 p.m. Game 5 will be back in East Hants March 2 at 7:30 p.m.
Dan Boyd, the Hants Journal’s freelance sports writer, took over the role of interim president for the Windsor Royals near the end of 2011.