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Valley Maple Leafs down 2-0 in playoffs against East Hants

WINDSOR, N.S. - The Valley Maple Leafs have nothing to hang their heads about following an exhilarating playoff game in Windsor on Feb. 18, despite being down 2-0 in the series.

Both clubs gave it everything they could at the Hants Exhibition Arena until Jesse Hamer, with East Hants, collected a loose rebound 3:19 into the first overtime period to give the Penguins a 4-3 win and 2-0 lead in their Best-of-Seven series.

Hamer collected the third rebound given to the Penguins, who were on the power-play after Wesley Demone of the Leafs was sent off for high-sticking and objected strenuously to the call, receiving a 10-minute misconduct as well.

During the opening period Penguins player Kyle Randall made a great rush, stepped around two Maple Leaf defenders with relative ease but was stopped stone cold by Leafs net minder Christopher Clokie.

At the other end, the Leafs Graeme McKinley, who played a strong game, was stopped cold twice by Penguins net minder Ryan Huestis directly in front of the net and then Huestis stopped Isaac Bridge on another great shot.

During this flurry of activity, the Maple Leafs power-play was sharp as East Hants was serving a penalty for too many men on the ice. The first period ended 0-0 with the Penguins holding an 18-10 advantage in shots.

With 13.51 left in the second period, the scoreless draw was finally broken with Manuel Manero serving a penalty for the Leafs and the Pens buzzing around the Leafs net, Jesse Hamer shoved the puck behind Clokie.

Nathan Clarke shortly after came right back and Huestis was called upon to make another sharp save on him.

Mark Vokey also had a near breakaway, good enough to force Clokie to stop him cold as he came in.

Maple Leafs minutes later started a flurry, which saw Huestis stop Leafs player Ben Dixon drive from the point and then stopping Isaac Bridge stone cold. Then with 6:30 left in the second period, Wesley Demone stopped Huestis’s shut-out streak, stretching back to the regular season at 153 minutes and 30 seconds as he scored to tie the game 1-1, which was the score at the end of the second period.

The Valley had a 15-12 shots advantage in the middle period.

In the third period, Quinn MacDonald, who carried the puck for the Penguins a great deal throughout the afternoon, got the puck out to Kyle Randall in front of the Leafs net.

Randall tried desperately to squeeze the puck into the top left-hand corner of the Leafs net but Clokie was there to make the save.

Jeffrey Connors and Jesse Hamer then had a splendid 2 on 1 but Hamer with a golden opportunity ended up shooting the puck wide of the net.

Jeffrey Connors later grabbed the puck in mid-air, put the puck back on the ice and went in alone with the Penguins short-handed and beat Clokie clean.

Just 1:03 later, a dribbling shot went from the blue line and literally rolled past Clokie and the Pens went up 3-1.

With only 3.57 to play, a scramble in front of the East Hants net resulted in a backhanded shot by Taylor Brown and suddenly the Leafs had closed to within one goal.

Then just 1:09 later, the Leafs were crawling all over the East Hants net and with 2:48 to play, Nathan Clarke’s shot from the point for the Leafs tied the game at 3-3.

The Valley outshot the Penguins 16-14 in the third and the Pens held a 44-41 advantage for the game.

Huestis was called upon again to make a sharp save on a shot by Ben Dixon in overtime.

The overtime goal came after Clokie made two initial saves before Jesse Hamer grabbed the loose puck inches away from Clokie and put it home for the 4-3 win.

Game 3 goes Feb. 21 in Lantz at 8:00 p.m. before returning to Windsor for game 4 on Feb. 23 at 7:30 p.m.

Penguins 8 - Leafs 0 in Game 1

The Leafs were hoping to get back into their opening round Fred Fox Divisional Semi-final with the first place East Hants Penguins Sunday afternoon.

The Leafs were crushed 8-0 in Lantz on Feb. 16 despite outshooting the Penguins 36-32 including 12-7 and 10-9 in the opening two periods only to find themselves trailing 4-0 after those 40 minutes.

Quinn MacDonald who led the league in scoring in the 2017-2018 regular season, with 32 goals and 40 assists for 72 points, added a pair of goals in the playoff opener Friday night while also collecting an assist.

MacDonald scored his first goal in the opening period and the Penguins added another marker.

MacDonald then scored again in the second period to go along with Jess Hamer’s first goal of the game to put the Penguins up 4-0.

The Penguins then scored four times in the third period, three of the goals coming in the game’s final 2:43.

The Leafs had only one player in their line-up all season with more than 15 goals and that was Issac Bridge with his 26.

All other players had less than 15 goals, but the Leafs will still be looking for strong performances from Wesley Demone and Nathan Clarke who both scored 11 during the regular season and rookie Cody Burghardt who registered 14 in his rookie season. The Leafs were eighth in team scoring in the league during the regular season scoring 135 goals, 68 goals less than League Leading East Hants.

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