Shield downs Avalanche for second-round berth
GRAVENHURST - The South Muskoka Shield showed little sympathy to their preliminary playoff round opponents Friday night and now hopes to quickly dispatch their quarter-final competition.
The Shield hosted the Algoma Avalanche at Gravenhurst Centennial Centre and swept up their first playoff round of the 2011-12 season with a convincing 10-3 win in the second game of a best-of-three series. It was a tough cap off to a day that started with a six-hour-plus bus drive through heavy snow that actually delayed the start of the game by about an hour.
Reaching the playoffs in the fourth seed, the Shield will now move on to play a big rival this season in the fifth-seeded Elliot Lake Bobcats, who handily set aside Bobcaygeon in their first round.
The second round, a best-of-five series, begins tonight (Feb. 29) on Bobcats’ ice with back-to-back games March 2 and 3 back in Gravenhurst, starting at 8 and 7 p.m. respectively. If necessary, game 4 moves back to Elliot Lake on March 6 at 7:30 p.m. and game 5 would be played in Gravenhurst, although no date or time will be set until the game is required.
Taking the first preliminary game 5-2 in Algoma and the second 10-3, the Shield players proved to their head coach Dallyn Telford they are prepared for what’s to come in the games ahead.
“There were a lot of good signs in the Algoma series. It was a good eye-opener for our rookies to see how much more intense the playoffs can be,” Telford said. “Also, throughout the series, we showed a great deal of discipline — a trait we will have to continue to display to achieve our goal.”
Telford praised the club’s special teams’ play through the short series, which did a good job of killing off penalties, while the offence generated more than 100 shots on goal in just the two games.
“Although we escaped the preliminary round with relative ease, we are very aware that we will have to elevate our game and be much better moving forward,” Telford added.
The Avalanche entered the playoffs as the 13th and last seed in the playoffs, but the Bobcats and Shield were locked in a points battle all season.
The Gravenhurst-based Greater Metro Junior A Hockey League (GMHL) team overtook the Elliot Lake club for the fourth seed in the final weekend of the regular season and, as such, has won home-ice advantage through at least these first two rounds of playoffs.
The other quarter-final matchups will pit Temiscaming against Orangeville, Sturgeon Falls against Deseronto and Bradford versus Lefroy.