Leafs win playoff opener

John
John Decoste
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Published on February 19, 2013

Luke Short, No. 7, celebrates being the first to score in Game 1 of the semi-final playoff series with Sackville. Also pictured is Andrew Squires, No. 21, who later on in the evening potted one of his own.

Published on February 19, 2013

Luke Short, No. 7, celebrates being the first to score in Game 1 of the semi-final playoff series with Sackville. Also pictured is Andrew Squires, No. 21, who later on in the evening potted one of his own.

Published on February 19, 2013

Colin Gillis, of Middleton, skates hard up the ice. In the Leafs semi-final playoff opener Feb. 18, he scored to give the Leafs the lead 3-1 in the second period.

Published on February 19, 2013

Luke Short had a great first playoff night, being the first to score in the Leafs' 4-2 win over the Sackville Blazers. Pictured here chasing the puck with Short in hot pursuit is Adam Brown.

Published on February 19, 2013

The Leafs fired 29 shots at Brennan Laite, who managed to deny all but 25 of them. Pictured here taking a shot on net is Mark Swain.

Published on February 19, 2013

Brady Fisher recovers the puck to pass to his teammate Andrew Squires. In the top of the third period, Squires, from Fisher, scored, giving the Leafs a 4-1 lead over the Blazers. Also pictured are netminder Brennan Laite and Matt Munro.

Published on February 19, 2013

Colin Gillis, (No. 12), from David Hayes (No. 9) and Jory Uhlman, put the Leafs up 3-1 with 1:22 left in the second period.

Published on February 19, 2013

Jory Uhlman, Colin Gillis and Nathan Little were at the ready to kill off a penalty late in the third period. The Leafs held on to their lead to win 4-2 Feb. 18.

Published on February 19, 2013

Team captain Nathan Little congratulates Alex Mader on the win in nets while the rest of the crew make their way to do the same.

The Valley Maple Leafs got their 2012-2013 post-season off to a positive start with a 4-2 win over the Sackville Blazers in the first game of their best-of-seven NSJBL division semifinal Monday evening, Feb. 18 in Lower Sackville.

While the result qualifies as somewhat of an upset, in reality, the regular season standings in the Fred Fox Division were so close that only three points separated the first-place Blazers from the fourth-place Leafs.

Sackville claimed top spot with 42 points, Brookfield was second with 41, the Bay Ducks third with 40 and Valley, which clinched a playoff berth in their final game, fourth with 39. Fifth-place Eastern Shore was only a point behind them with 38.

On Monday, Valley opened the scoring midway through the first period when Luke Short stole the puck in the Blazers’ zone and slipped it past Brennan Laite.

The 1-0 lead held up for only four minutes, until Sackville’s Matt Arthur scored on the power play on assists from Adam Brown and Andrew Taylor.

With three minutes left in the period and Valley now on the power play, Nathan Little’s shot from the point was deflected past Laite by Jake Galbraith for a 2-1 Valley lead after one period. Brandon Parker also drew an assist on the goal.

The Maple Leafs, who outshot Sackville 15-10 in the first period, upped their lead to 3-1 when David Hayes and Jory Uhlman set up Colin Gillis with 1:22 left in the second period.

Valley had a 9-7 edge in shots in the middle frame for a 22-19 advantage after 40 minutes.

In the third period, Andrew Squires scored the prettiest goal of the night, an accurate shot from the left side that went in over Laite’s shoulder for a 4-1 Valley lead. Brady Fisher drew the only assist on the goal, which was scored at 2:20.

The game’s final goal, at 9:06 of the third, came off the stick of Sackville’s Shane Boudreau to reduce the lead to 4-2. Trailing by two, the Blazers pulled their goalie in the final minute but were unable to close the gap any further.

Alex Mader stopped 33 of the 35 shots aimed his way, including 15 of 16 in the third period, to earn his first playoff win at the Junior B level. The Maple Leafs ended up with 29 shots on Laite.

“One of our goals this year was just to make playoffs,” said assistant coach Rob Lindsay following the win. “We're happy as coaching staff. The boys played hard, they showed a lot of character.”

Standout players in the Monday night game included Squires, Gillis, Uhlman and David Hayes.

“Squires seems to be firing on all cylinders... It's a good time for him to peak. We've got Gilly, who's playing unbelievable. Jory is a solid guy,” said Lindsay, noting that “Hayes dug really deep” and assisted the defence even though he's generally a forward.

With the win, home ice advantage in the series shifted in favour of the Leafs, with three of the next five games in the best-of-seven series scheduled for their home ice, starting with game two, an 8:20 p.m. start Thursday, Feb. 21 in Berwick.

Game three is set for Monday, Feb. 25 in Sackville, with game four back in Berwick Thursday, Feb. 28.

~ With files from Carole Morris-Underhill

Organizations: Maple Leafs, Fred Fox Division, Nova Scotia Junior Hockey League NSJHL Valley Maple Leafs

Geographic location: Lower Sackville, Berwick, Windsor Hants County Sackville Arena Nova Scotia

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