After three months of regular season Premier Ball Hockey it’s time once again for a rugged playoff season. Eight teams will vie for the coveted Premier Ball Hockey Championship. Here are the Quarter-Final game one results.
(4) Belleville Bruins vs. (5) Niagara Generals
The Premier playoffs opened up on Saturday afternoon as the Belleville Bruins travelled to Niagara to face the Generals in game one of their quarter-final matchup. For many of the Bruins the trip was nearly three hours to reach their destination but that didn’t dampen the attitudes or focus of the Bruins as they were ready and confident as they entered the Peach King Arena. The Generals playing at home were also very calm, cool and collected and the advantage of playing in your own rink had the Generals pumped and ready to go. The goaltending battle would see Bram Leggatt and Kevin Bailie square off. As the clock hit 4:30pm the first ball of the 2013 Playoff season had been dropped.
Both teams tried to set the tone early and it was the Bruins who would open the scoring just three minutes into the series as Ryan Calbeck pounced on a rebound and lifted the ball in to a vacated side of the goal as Bram Leggatt couldn’t reset after making the original stop. The game was very hard fought with both teams playing physical in an attempt to maintain an aggressive fore check. Bruins offensive leader Jeff Brokema midway through the first was handed a body contact penalty and it was time for the Generals offence to try their luck. After applying pressure for most of the PP the Generals were rewarded as Ian Downes would bury a rebound from the right side of the goal and the game was tied. Niagara would take over for the rest of the first period but numerous spectacular saves from Bailie in the Bruins goal would keep the game knotted at one’s at half.
The Generals would keep applying the pressure and a great pass from the slot by Tyler Rabishaw found a wide open Mike Nielson on the right side of the goal and Nielson made no mistake as he buries the go ahead marker at 8:56 of the second frame. With the Bruins coping with being behind a goal for the first time in the game the Generals struck again as Munie Humdani fired a low slap shot that beat Bailie who was being screened by Tardif and the lead was increased to 3-1. The Bruins playing with a sense of urgency started to gamble offensively and only the play of Leggatt and some timely blocked shots preserved the one goal lead. A penalty to Eric Tardif gave the Bruins an opportunity to draw closer but Leggatt once again was equal to the task. An empty netter by Dan Dooley made the final score 4-1 Generals and game one was in the books.
After witnessing this game it only gets me excited and anxious at what lays ahead for game two of this series and the commencement of the other three quarter final matchups that begin in less than 48 hours. The stars of this game had to be both goaltenders as they both stood on their head as this game was tied for nearly thirty minutes. Ian Downes who had a big game with a goal and two assists for the Generals and Nathan Moon for the Bruins who was a thorn in the side of the Generals all afternoon deserved to be recognized for their contributions. The series now shifts to Oshawa, the Bruins will hold home floor advantage, where they hope to even and send the series to a third and deciding game.
(2) Mississauga Hawks vs. (7) Toronto Thunder
The Toronto Thunder picked up where they left off from the winter season by taking game one of their QF series versus the Mississauga Hawks by the score of 5-4. In a tight opening ten minutes it seemed that both teams were content with sitting back and not giving up a goal rather than trying to score a goal. The ice would be finally broken with just under seven minutes left to play as Joe Barbas fires in the opening marker of the series. The Thunder would battle back to level the score as a laser from Charlie Giffin would find the top corner and the score would be leveled at one. Speedster JK Gill would make no mistake on a breakaway as he buries a backhand to the left of Dan Giffin and the Hawks would go to half with a 2-1 lead and momentum.
The Thunder needed a spark and agitator Daniel Freitas whacks away at a loose ball and puts the Thunder back on even ground and the game is back where we started on level grounds. As the game stayed tied the Hawks applied pressure but Thunder goaltender Dan Giffin keeps the game tied. The Thunder would break through as Kenny Sousa scores the go ahead goal and the Thunder held their first lead of the game. Just over a minute later Tony Oliveira scores as he tips in a shot from the slot and the Thunder had doubled their lead to make the score 4-2. The Hawks suddenly found themselves down by two and the momentum had turned. Jason Arruda just two minutes later gave his club a three goal spread and the Thunder looked to be home and cooled off.
That goal from Arruda turned out to be huge as it became the game winner. The Hawks would score two goals with their goalie pulled to draw the game to 5-4. Mike Kusy and Allen Penney do their best to draw the Hawks within one but with only ten seconds left the clock runs down before the Hawks could draw level. The Hawks with their backs squarely against the wall face another do or die game. Can the Hawks draw level and force a deciding game three or will their playoff drought continue?
(1) Brampton vs. (8) Vaughan Red Wings
It’s almost impossible to climb out of a hole in a playoff series or game and the Vaughan Red Wings had both happen to them in game one of their series. Shawn Hannon with a pair of goals before the game was a minute old had the VRW quickly down two. Adam Bevilaqua fires in his first of the post season and the lead was increased to three just 1:36 into the game. Now behind the eight ball by three the VRW needed to get the momentum changed in their favor.
A Mike Polesel slap shot from the right faceoff circle cut into the lead and the VRW showed a sign of life. Just when the Wings looked to be back on track Frankie Giustini and his slap shot raised the score to 4-1. It was half and Coach Pino Panza needed to settle the troops. Another Express goal looked to have sealed the deal as Marc Parravano blasts his first of the series to increase the lead to 5-1. The game would suddenly get interesting as VRW would score three straight goals to cut the lead to 5-4 as Shilton, Perpetua and Ceccanese cut the lead to 5-4. The final six minutes was now an edge of your seat affair as both teams traded chances with the Wings nearly leveling the score.
With the clock the Wings biggest enemy the defence started to take chances and an odd man rush led to a goal from Frankie Edgecombe that gave the Express a two goal cushion with only 1:38 left on the clock. In a last ditch effort to try a comeback the Wings pulled their goaltender and Hannon added his hat trick goal into an empty net to make the final 8-5.The return of VRW starting goaltender Anthony Ferrante will play a big factor in game two as he returns from a one game suspension. Game two will be another exciting edge of your seat game.
(3) Metro Orangemen vs. (6) North York Hitmen
Overtime was needed to decide a winner in what turned out to be the must watch game of the night. The Hitmen and Orangemen both came ready to play. The Hitmen would stun the Orangemen and score the opening goal of the game as Danny Rocha, a one-time Orangemen, redirects a centering pass into the Orangemen net and the Hitmen had drawn first blood. As Rocha celebrated his goal by jumping into the side boards the Hitmen were off and running. That goal may have just woken the Orangemen as they battled back to score two goals and take a 2-1 lead to half. Glen Bradbury and Ricardo Pires would find the back of the net behind Dave Clark as the Hitmen were now behind.
Just when we think we can tell what’s going to happen the tide always seems to turn. The Hitmen started to apply pressure and goals from Pulicicchio, Cucchiara and Arce gave the upstart Hitmen a two goal bulge and a 4-2 lead. The momentum had swung and the Hitmen just needed to hang on for the final eleven minutes. The Orangemen are resilient and the veterans of this team will refuse to roll over. The comeback commenced with a beautiful backdoor pass from Rob Cardoso to Glen Bradbury who redirected the ball pass Dave Clark and the Orangemen were within one. Afforded a PP with only six minutes left gave the Orangemen were up a man and made the most of their chance. Nelson Pacheco batted a rebound in from just outside Dave Clark’s crease and the game was tied 4-4.
Overtime was up next and the Orangemen entered the extra frame down a man from a high sticking the ball penalty .The Hitmen were granted a glorious chance to end the game and they peppered Raza Zaidi with numerous shots but were denied. Super sniper Ricardo Pires would be the hero as his quick wrist shot catches Clark off guard and the game was over. The Orangemen come away with a 5-4 win and series lead heading into game two. The Hitmen have to be happy with their game plan and play even though they are down a game.
This is what we play for, Playoff hockey! All game ones are in the books and one series has played two games and you won’t believe the five outstanding games we’ve had to this point. This is Premier Ball Hockey at its best. We had had two OT games and the excitement was at an all time high.
The games shift to Downsview Arena on Wednesday starting at 7pm. Admission is free to watch the BEST ball hockey players in the province square off.