Penguins win best of seven Jr. B playoff series against Leafs

Carole Morris-Underhill
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Published on March 08, 2014

Leafs captain Craig Anderson defends Mitch Culley in nets while Penguin Jordan Lauther looks to score during Game 6 of the Fred Fox Division semi-final playoffs.

Published on March 08, 2014

Leafs defenseman Kyle Kavanagh taps the puck through Jonathan Biron's legs in an attempt to clear the crease during Jr. B playoff hockey action March 7 in Lantz.

Published on March 08, 2014

It was a hard fought best of seven playoff series between the Valley Maple Leafs and the East Hants Penguins. The East Hants team took the series four games to two March 7 when they won 3-2 in double overtime. Pictured are, for the Leafs, goalie Mitch Culley and defensemen Luke Short and Craig Anderson; for the Pens are Paul Rekai and Nolan Martin.

Published on March 08, 2014

Mitch Culley goes for the cover up while Kyle Kavanagh tussles with Penguin Cole Baker behind the net. The Penguins defeated the Leafs March 7 in double overtime to win the best of seven Fred Fox Division semi-final playoff series. Also pictured are Greg Brown and Steven Brooker, for the Leafs.

Published on March 08, 2014

Penguins goaltender Jason Ellis deflects the puck after Mark Swain takes a shot on net. Also pictured is Michael McGahey.

Published on March 08, 2014

Late in the third period March 7, Leafs forward Mitch Normore made a solid effort against goaltender Jason Ellis but was denied. The Penguins won the game in double overtime.

Published on March 08, 2014

The VML crew head back to the bench after Michael Dill, second from left, tied the March 7 playoff game 2-2. Also pictured are Alex Feltmate, far left, team captain Craig Anderson and Kyle Kavanagh.

Published on March 08, 2014

Jeff Longaphy scored late in the third period but the goal was disallowed.

Published on March 08, 2014

Jeff Longaphy scored late in the third period but the goal was disallowed.

Published on March 08, 2014

The Valley Maple Leafs finished in first place in the Fred Fox Division of the Nova Scotia Junior Hockey League for the regular 2013-14 season. In the semi-final division playoffs, they lost four games to two to the East Hants Penguins.

UPDATED: March 9

It took double overtime in Lantz Friday night, March 7, for the East Hants Penguins to pull out a win over the Valley Maple Leafs, but it was enough to take the best of seven series 4-2.

With the win, the Penguins advance to the final round of playoffs in the Fred Fox Division of the Nova Scotia Junior Hockey League. With the loss, the Leafs bid farewell to their overage players and begin planning for next year.

In an interview following the heartbreaking Game 6 3-2 double overtime loss, the Leafs' head coach Josh Dill said the team gave the playoff run a good shot.

“We worked really hard and we played well as a team. We threw the puck at them and threw it hard and their goalie played really well,” said Dill.

Shots on goal favoured the Leafs, who fired 33 shots at Jason Ellis during regulation play. One shot, which bested Ellis in the third period, was disallowed.

Alex Feltmate, from Colin Gillis, struck early in the first period to give the Leafs the lead. About five minutes later, the Penguins' Cole MacDonell, from Eric Snedden and Brandon Leonardo, tied the game 1-1 heading into the second.

Pens call-up Nolan Martin, from Paul Rekai and Connor Currie, was the lone goal scorer in the second, giving the East Hants team a 2-1 advantage heading into the third.

Affiliated player Michael Dill, from Gillis and Kyle Kavanaugh, then tied the game 2-2 for the Leafs, scoring with 6:15 remaining in the period.

As mentioned earlier, a third period goal by assistant captain Jeff Longaphy was disallowed. Although it was contested by the Leafs coaches and fans, the refs maintained the goal was no good.

“I think we deserved to win the hockey game,” said Dill. “We have a goal that went in the net that the ref said was not in. We put it to them pretty good. We were all over them.”

The game, held at the East Hants Sportsplex in Lantz, was deadlocked at the conclusion of the third period. This forced a 10-minute sudden death overtime. When nothing could be solved there, the game entered double overtime. Martin, from Currie and Rekai, potted the winner for the Penguins a little more than a minute into the second OT period.

Ellis collected his fourth win of the playoffs while Mitch Culley was tagged with the loss.

The Penguins will now take on the Sackville Blazers in the Fred Fox Division final.

In the two years the Leafs have been in existence, they've made the playoffs both years. Dill said they will spend the summer preparing themselves for another strong season and hopefully another playoff run.

“We have a lot of fundraising to do to get some money in the bank for next year and come back strong and try to have a little better fate,” said Dill.

The Leafs ended the regular 2013-14 season in first place. The Penguins were in fourth place heading into playoffs.

The Leafs are losing four overage players this year: goaltenders Culley (who recorded a league-leading five shutouts in the 2013-14 regular season) and Joe Hines, defenseman Luke Short and forward Joe MacDougall. Culley, Short and MacDougall were also former Windsor Royals players, while Hines, who played for the Eastern Shore Junior Mariners, is from Hants County.

Also playing with the Leafs during the 2013-14 season, but not since January, were overagers Adriano Digioacchino and Brady Fisher.

Dill noted there are about six guys who will be considered overage that will be looking to make the team next year. They also have a lot of returning players.

“We don't lose a whole lot, so next year, we should be alright,” noted Dill.

Dill said the Leafs organization would like to thank the fans and sponsors who helped make the season possible, as well as the players for their commitment.

“Hopefully next year, we'll get the same support and get some more crowds and have a little more luck in the playoffs.”


Organizations: Penguins, Valley Maple Leafs, East Hants Penguins Nova Scotia Junior Hockey League

Geographic location: Lantz, East Hants, East Hants Sportsplex Windsor

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