MEMBERTOU, N.S. – It wasn’t the way the Arsenault’s Fish Mart Western Red Wings drew it up, but they will take the 8-5 win over the East Hants Penguins from Nova Scotia to start the Don Johnson Memorial Cup.
“It was ugly but we got it done,” head coach Nathan Desroches said after the game in Membertou, N.S.
When asked about the high-scoring affair the bench boss replied, “our defensive structure from top to bottom was simply not good enough and we will definitely have to improve entering Thursday’s 12 noon game against the Mark’s Mount Pearl Blades from Newfoundland.”
The Blades defeated New Brunswick 5-4 in overtime in their opener Wednesday.
The Wings and Penguins were tied 2-2 after one period and the Wings moved in front 5-4 after 40 minutes. During one stretch in the second period, the teams combined for three goals in 57 seconds, two by the Wings and one by the Penguins.
Until the latter stages of the second, the Wings forechecked consistently and demonstrated a form of dominance over the Penguins.
East Hants was up 1-0 after the opening 29 seconds and after the teams exchanged goals, the Wings captain Chasse Gallant provided the Wings with a power-play goal and his second of the opening period with only 31 seconds remaining in the first to knot the score at 2-2.
A flurry of goals within 57 seconds were the first ones of the second period starting with Silas Henderson of the Wings as they pushed and pushed and would not give up around the Penguins net until the puck finally crossed the line.
East Hants tied it 48 seconds later before Jason Gallant on a relatively weak shot put the Wings ahead again 4-3 just nine seconds after the Penguins goal. Issac Knox made it 5-3 Western 2:36 seconds after Gallant’s go-ahead marker. The Wings came out strong for the third and scored two goals in the opening two minutes and 10 seconds to take a commanding 7-4 lead thanks to a pair of goals from Connor Morrissey. East Hants then scored to make it 7-5 Wings before Curklin Fraser put the Wings back up by three at 8-5.
Knox was stopped stone-cold on a breakaway by the East Hants netminder in the opening period as was Chasse Gallant in the second period as he was robbed blind in front of the East Hants net.
Written by Dan Boyd, Special To The Journal Pioneer