On the verge of being eliminated from further playoff contention, the Windsor Royals knew what they had to do when they hit the ice this past weekend.
The Junior C team put on quite a show for hockey fans when they came up against the Spryfield Attack for Games 5 and 6 in the Best of Seven playoff series.
“The guys really stepped up their game. We had been working on a few things in practice that we wanted to tighten up and eliminate things we were doing wrong and it seems to be spilling over into the games, which is good to see,” said head coach Mike LaPierre in a phone interview.
“We’ve got a little bit of momentum heading into Game 7 so we’re hoping that we can carry that over,” he continued. “Anything can happen in Game 7, as you know.”
After seeing how well the team has been working together, LaPierre said he’s optimistic the Royals have what it takes to come out on top.
“I was really impressed and proud of the guys, how they came together as a team. Nobody was complaining about ice time. Whoever was going out next, it just didn’t matter as long as they got the job done,” said LaPierre.
“As long as we keep that attitude and bring the game that we brought the last couple of games, for sure we should be OK.”
Heading into the March 2-3 weekend, the Royals trailed the Attack three games to one.
On March 2, at the Spryfield Lions Rink, the Royals eked out an overtime win to keep their playoff dreams alive.
Bret Himmelman put the Royals on the scoreboard near the halfway mark of the first period. The Attack responded, with Michael Murphy and Brandon Stone each scoring.
There was no scoring in the second.
Himmelman scored mid-way through the third to tie the game 2-2. Parker Connors, on the power-play, scored about two minutes later. The Attack’s Murphy tied it up with 7:58 remaining in the game.
The score remained knotted at 3-3 until mid-way through the second overtime period when Branden Schofield scored to win the bout 4-3.
James Brenton picked up the win for the Royals in facing 45 shots. Sam Kamermans was tagged with the loss.
On March 3 in Windsor, the Royals downed the visiting Attack 5-1.
The Royals were up 2-1 after the first period, thanks to goals by Himmelman and Chad Woodill.
Like Saturday’s contest, there was no scoring in the second period.
In the dying five minutes of play, the Royals kicked into high gear, scoring three times.
Cameron Dauphinee scored with 5:14 remaining in regulation play, then Woodill, with his second unassisted goal of the night, scored, and with two minutes showing on the clock, Himmelman scored his second goal.
Dylan Brown was the lone goal scorer for the Attack.
Brenton was in nets for the Royals, turning away 35 of 36 shots on goal. Ryan Higginson was tagged with the loss. He faced 47 shots on goal.
“Two of the six games we’ve played so far have gone into double overtime so it’s been really good hockey,” said LaPierre. “Both sides have been playing hard, with great goaltending, so fans definitely won’t be disappointed with what they see. I really encourage them to come out and cheer the guys on. Should be a nail-biter.”
The two teams will square off again on March 8 in Spryfield. Game time is 8:30 p.m. On the line is the chance to advance to the Nova Scotia Regional Junior Hockey League championships and face the Eastern Shore Thunder. The winner of Game 7 will meet the Thunder March 9 for the first game in that series. If Windsor advances to the championship series, they will host the Thunder on March 10.