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Valley Maple Leafs defeat East Hants Penguins, advance to Liverpool series

WINDSOR, N.S. — The Valley Maple Leafs were in a do-or-die playoff game March 3 with the East Hants Penguins, and tensions were high.

Trailing the Penguins 1-0 for two full periods of play, yet firing lots of pucks on net, it wasn't looking good for the Leafs, who are the defending Atlantic Canada Junior B champions.

Trailing the Penguins 1-0 for two full periods of play, yet firing lots of pucks on net, it wasn't looking good for the Leafs, who are the defending Atlantic Canada Junior B champions.

Isaac Bridge tries to get on the scoreboard against East Hants' goalie Ryan Huestis to no avail in the second period. Also pictured are the Penguins' Kyle Randall, Andrew Abriel and Riley Strowbridge.
Tyler Young tries to capture the rebound as the Penguins' Andrew Abriel does the same.
It may have been a fierce seven-game battle between the Valley Maple Leafs and East Hants Penguins but that doesn't mean they don't joke around in-between plays. Pictured are the Penguins' sharpshooter Jamie McIntyre and the Leafs' defenceman Patrick Duggan.

But, with 8:10 remaining, the tide began to turn as the Leafs' team captain, Tyler Young, scored on the power-play to tie the bout. A little more than a minute later, Nathan Clarke scored what would be the game-winner, as the audience erupted with cheers.

“The boys showed much character. It was well-deserved,” said assistant coach Brett Fletcher following the 2-1 victory.

Andrew Hines was the lone scorer for the Penguins.

Several of the Leafs' regular players couldn't suit up for the final playoff game due to injury or suspensions. For example, Shayne Gillis received a four game suspension following their Feb. 25 playoff game, while the Feb. 28 game saw Alexander Shaw receive a four-game suspension and overage defenceman Mitchell Singer receive an eight-game suspension.

Tyler Young, No. 5, catches goalie Ryan Huestis at the perfect time, recording the game tying goal March 3.
Kirk Baylis passes the puck up the ice while Wesley Demone and Tyler Young attempt to intercept it.

“We have a lot of call ups because of our suspensions and guys that are hurt. We brought in some guys that aren't used to playing with us from the Avon River Rats and they absolutely contributed in every single way. They allowed us to stay in the game,” said Fletcher.

“That was our game plan: every period, stay in the game, stay in the game, and then in the third, we found some way to win.”

The teams were evenly matched throughout the game – and throughout the Best of Seven playoff series, Fletcher said.

The assistant coach said he couldn't single out a stand out player as they all contributed so much to the win.

“Everybody contributed – absolutely everybody. The call ups that weren't dressed – the midgets that were here – they were in the dressing room with us. Everybody was a part of that win. It was a very good feeling,” said Fletcher. “Twenty guys, plus everybody else that's part of this organization, helped win that game.”

Brody McCarron intercepts the Penguins' Matthew Perruzza as he attempted to move the puck up the ice.
The Leafs' affiliated player Logan Cleveland makes a play in the Penguins' end March 3.

The Leafs' goaltender Christopher Clokie made some crowd-pleasing saves, stopping 28 of 29 attempts. Ryan Huestis was tagged with the loss, stopping 35 of 37 shots on goal.

“East Hants' goaltender was amazing. They've got very strong defense. We stuck with it and we battled back. They're a great team and I'm just glad to fight our way through,” said Fletcher of the series.


Upcoming games

The Leafs now advance to the Fred Fox Division Best of Seven series with the Liverpool Privateers. The Privateers defeated the Cole Harbour Colts four games to two in the opening round of the playoffs.

The winner of this series will then compete for the Nova Scotia Junior Hockey League championship title.

“Liverpool is a very good team too so it's going to be tough,” said Fletcher.

The dates of the second round of playoffs are still being determined. Stay tuned for the latest updates.

All eyes were on the puck as the Penguins attempted to even the score March 3. Pictured here with the Valley Maple Leafs are Brett Bittner, Patrick Duggan and goaltender Christopher Clokie.
The Maple Leafs celebrate their 2-1 victory March 3. The win means the team will advance to the next round of playoffs.

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