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Avalanche on hunt to secure provincial berth, two chances available

Graduating player Joe MacDonald was brilliant in nets against the Clare Loups Feb. 16.
Graduating player Joe MacDonald was brilliant in nets against the Clare Loups Feb. 16. - Jim Ivey
WINDSOR, N.S. —

As they headed into weekend play, the Avon View Avalanche’s boys’ hockey team was one win away from advancing to the Division I NSSAF Boys’ Hockey Championship in Glace Bay March 8-10.

Avon View was slated to play in Bridgewater March 1 to take on their arch nemesis, the Parkview Panthers.

The Panthers defeated the Avalanche in all four games played between the two clubs in the 2018-19 regular season. The latest defeat was a 5-2 loss on Feb. 22 in Bridgewater when the teams met for the final time in the Valley High School Boys’ Hockey League regular season.

The Avalanche, who were coming off a 3-2 shoot-out loss to the Horton High Griffins in their final regular season game on Feb. 23 in Kentville, upset the Griffins’ playoff hopes Feb. 26.

The Griffins came to Windsor that night for a sudden-death Western Zone Divisional NSSAF qualifier, which the Avalanche won 4-1. The qualifier is what led the Avalanche to have to play Parkview on March 1.

If the Avalanche were to lose to the Panthers, they would still have one more crack at heading to the provincials in a one-game sudden-death contest with the fourth-place team from the Metro High School Hockey League.

If that were to happen, Avalanche head coach Mark Tye said that game would have to be played March 4 or March 5 in Windsor.

Qualifier highlights

In the Horton NSSAF qualifier, the Avalanche controlled the puck in the Horton end mid-way through the first period when Dan Lord let a wrist shot go that eluded Horton netminder Seth Routledge and went high over his shoulder to give AV a 1-0 lead.

Matt Benedict’s drive from the point then saw Routledge sprawled on the ice but he made a nice glove save.

Will Caines then missed, having his shot ring off the goalpost.

The second Avalanche goal in the first period came when Blake Rogers made a terrific play. He weaved through the Horton defense, controlling the puck the entire time, and made an exceptional pass to Keigan Turnbull, who had a wide-open net to put it home.

The second period saw both teams skating extra hard, as Ethan Salsman made a great play in blocking Mitchell Denney.

Horton was playing short-handed when Jayden Smiley took a pass from Tommy Shaw to bring Horton back to within a goal.

The Avalanche then went up 3-1 after Jack Sheehan made a nice stop at the blue line and fired the puck up the ice, which found Lord, who was waiting at the goaltender’s glove side, and he put it into an empty net.

Rogers continued his outstanding work as, after Smiley was ejected from the game, he picked up a loose puck and went in alone to make it 4-1.

Avon View then scored an empty net goal, which Horton’s head coach, Jeff Moore, objected to, saying the play was offside. The goal was called back and 27 seconds were added to the clock, with less than a minute to play. No goals were scored in the final minute, with Avon View winning the contest 4-1 and advancing to play Parkview.

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