Dundas draws first blood
Calean McPhee of Dundas celebrates his second period marker during Game 1 of the PJHL playoffs in Port Dover Tuesday. The Blues won the game 6-1. JACOB ROBINSON/Simcoe Reformer
One team had a near-perfect start to the 2017 post-season in Port Dover Tuesday. Unfortunately for the 121 in attendance, it wasn't the Sailors.
Port Dover's undisciplined and mostly sloppy defensive play was all the Dundas Blues needed to skate away from the south coast with a 6-1 victory and one game lead in the best-of-seven PJHL Bloomfield Division quarter-final.
The Sailors were assessed 52 minutes in penalties which led to three Blues tallies.
“Off the hop, we were getting caught up in the penalties and that's a momentum killer for us,” said Sailors captain Brad Johnson, who was given four minutes for spearing just 4:16 into the series. “We play with a lot of emotion and that catches up with us so we need to learn to control that a little bit and focus our energy in a more positive way and we're going to be alright. There's some good things to take from the game today. Obviously, it didn't come out the way we wanted it to but moving forward we have some things we want to work on and staying out of the box is one of them for sure.”
After getting outshot 17-7 in the first, the Sailors were worse in the second yielding two shorthanded and a pair of powerplay markers. Dundas added an even-strength tally just for good measure, further rubbing salt in a growing wound. The loss was Port Dover's sixth straight and second vs. Dundas dating back to the regular season finale Sunday afternoon.
The two sides will meet again Thursday in Dundas where Port Dover will look to capture their first contest since Jan. 15.
“We want everybody to be on the edge where everybody is playing aggressive, fast-paced, hard hockey,” Johnson explained. “It's going to happen where one slips and we get put in the box, but it's definitely an area we need to discipline ourselves if we're going to make it further in this series.”
Andrew Hawkins got the nod in goal for head coach Mike Tobin's team, and the score may well have been more lopsided if not for some nice stops courtesy the 19-year-old Brantford native. Matthew Venturelli replaced his running mate in the final period and didn't have much help as the Blues tacked on one more. In contrast, Blues starter Dan Davies (16 saves) could've tended the twine sitting in a lawn chair for much of the evening.
“We just worked the puck down low and take advantage of our opportunities,” said Blues captain Ray Thompson, who scored twice in the second frame. “We know that no games are going to come easy and with that, we were strong on the puck and basically (tried to) outwork them every shift we can and don't lose puck battles. It's the little things that win the games.”
Hope isn't lost for the Sailors. They do need to win four of six to stay alive, but they split the season series against the Blues 3-3, a stretch that included wins in the first two meetings. The playoffs, however, are a different story and this group - one that once had a legitimate shot to finish second in the standings before hitting the skids - knows it needs a better effort top to bottom if they wish to advance. Johnson said the team isn't hitting the panic button.
“It's just ironing out a couple things here and there,” the Oakville product added. “We've got a good group of guys here and we're not too worried about it. We know we're going to come back, we know our game and if we come to play we're going to get the results we want. Just keep working hard and keep pushing and we'll get there.”
Division MVP Eric Mueller had Port Dover's lone goal on the night.
In other Bloomfield action, the Simcoe Storm (8) will travel to Grimsby (1) to start their best-of-seven series Wednesday night while the Hagersville Hawks (3) won Game 1 by a score of 3-2 in overtime vs. Dunnville (6).
In the Doherty Division, the Norwich Merchants (5) are up two games to none over New Hamburg (4).