Game one of the semi-final round is in the books. The Vaughan Red Wings continue to peak at the right time as they beat the Brampton Express 5-3 with Jon Pereira firing a hat trick in the win. St. Michael’s open a 2-0 lead on the Thunder before a three goal come back capped by a Massimo Principe winner with six seconds left decides the game.
After a thrilling QF round victory against the Mississauga Hawks, the Vaughan Red Wings continued their quest through the Premier playoffs. Playing a solid two way game for thirty minutes lead to a 5-3 victory over the defending National Champions the Brampton Express. Leading the charge was power forward Jon Pereira who scored a hat trick which included a short handed goal and an empty netter to seal the game one victory. The Express came out quickly and opened a two goal spread as Tony Montiero and Brandon Ianuzzi beat Ferrante to put the Wings down early. The come back would then commence as a constant fore checking and pressure resulted in a turn over and Jon Pereira would pull the Wings to within one. Rob Shilton before the first period ends evens the score on a breakaway and his shot that finds its way behind DiGironimo and we were deadlocked at two heading to period number two. The Red Wings forced to kill one of their four short handed times of the game to start the second get a break. A flip pass from Renda in the defensive zone finds its intended target as Pereira is sent in alone and beats DiGironimo and the Wings are ahead for the first time at 3-2. The lead was short lived as a four minute minor to Anthony Metallo sent the Express back to the PP. This time the Express would capitalize as Shawn Hannon lets a shot go to even the score. After some back and forth action the Red Wings would deliver the winning goal off the stick of Steve Ceccanese and the Wings were ahead for good. An undisciplined penalty after the fourth Red Wings goal saw the express receive a four and two minute penalty, ultimately putting the Express down six minutes with 5:25 to play, down a goal. The VRW would pick up a four minute penalty so the stage was set for a frantic finish. The young checkers from the VRW kept the Express pinned and an offensive zone set up was not attained and the final score after Pereira fires into a vacated Express goal, 5-3 Wings.
The second semi-final match up of the night had the number two ranked Toronto Thunder vs. the number three ranked St. Michael’s BHC. After two straight shutout victories versus the Metro Orangemen, Anthony Flores would need to be at the top of his game if St. Mike’s would advance through to the big dance. Flores would continue his dominance as the Thunder were turned away scoreless after one and the game would head to halftime in a 0-0 stalemate. The Thunder to start the second period would find themselves in early penalty trouble and St. Mike’s would gain a two man advantage and a chance to open the scoring. The Thunder would receive a third consecutive penalty and both Jon Macri and Wil Trougakos would beat Dan Giffin making his playoff debut this season and St. Mike’s would go ahead 2-0. The Thunder would score their first goal as Mike DaSilva makes the score 2-1. A PP would give the highest efficient PP unit in the division a chance to even the score. Captain Danny Filice would fire a classic Filice rocket past Flores and the Thunder had evened the score at two. The game seemed headed for OT as a long shot was stopped by Flores with six seconds left, as he kneels down to scoop up the loose ball he fails to corral it. As the ball sat just by his left pad Premier scoring Champion Massimo Principe swoops in and knocks the ball in to the cage behind Flores. Final 3-2 Thunder. Flores still sports a 1.00 GAA in the post season but will need to gain a victory in game two if St. Mike’s is to prolong the series and it’s season. The Thunder sits one game away from reaching their fifth straight Downsview Park Championship series. Game two’s as in any series are always a battle and the Thunder will need to focus on the task at hand.
Game two’s will be played on Monday night, February 20 at 9 and 10pm inside the legendary Hangar.
Semi Final Game 1 Top Goaltenders
1. Anthony Ferrante (VRW) - gains victory over the Express to give team lead in series
2. Anthony Flores (St. Mike’s) - shutout streak of 75 minutes ends but stellar play keeps game within reach
3. Dave DiGironimo (Express) - turns away constant pressure to keep game close
Semi Final Game 1 Top Performers
1. Jon Pereira (VRW) - hat trick
2. Massimo Principe (Thunder) - game winner
3. Danny Novis (St. Mike’s) - logs mega minutes