Sports

JUNIOR HOCKEY

The Norwich Merchants hold a 2-0 series lead against the New Hamburg Firebirds in their Provincial Junior Hockey League quarterfinal series

By Greg Colgan, Sentinel-Review

The Norwich Merchants broke out to a 2-0 series lead against the New Hamburg Firebirds in their quarterfinal Provincial Junior Hockey League series. Norwich took Game 1 in overtime 6-5 and followed it with a 4-3 win in Game 2 on home ice.

In Game 1 in Baden, the Firebirds opened the scoring 1:39 into the game with Colin Martin giving New Hamburg an early lead. Troy Lamoure evened the game seconds later at 2:43 with Jon Damm and Jesse Dunn getting assists to make it 1-1 at the end of the first.

In the second, Norwich’s Blake Pow scored on a slap shot from the hash marks after Jordan Gillis battled for the puck down low while the Merchants were shorthanded. New Hamburg then scored two goals 19 seconds apart with Brodie Muckler getting a goal at 9:33 and Brayden Lane adding another at 9:52 to make it 3-2 for the Firebirds at the end of the second.

The Merchants came into the third and scored three goals in a 10 minute span with Lamoure scoring on the power play at 48 seconds with Pow getting the helper. Matt Caskanette had Norwich’s next goal on the power play at 6:00 with Mason Cooper and Brandon Velda getting assists then Pow scored at 10:25 to give Norwich a 5-3 lead. Nathan Innes and Velda had assists. The Firebirds’ Nathan Grossi brought New Hamburg within one at 11:33 then scored the tying goal with the net pulled with one second remaining in regulation.

Brett Parsons had the game winning goal at 4:31 of overtime after taking a pass from Jordan Gillis and Matt Larochelle also adding an assist.

Tyler Gubesch made 29 stops for Norwich and Michael Black made 24 saves for New Hamburg.

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Norwich continued their momentum from the previous night with a 4-3 win in Game 2 and had the game’s first two goals in the first period.

Jordan Gillis had a power play goal at 3:13 as Troy Lamoure and Brett Parsons had assists then Derek Slaght added a power play goal at 19:27 with Matt Larochelle and Mason Cooper getting assists to take a 2-0 lead into the first intermission.

New Hamburg’s Tyler Kleine cut the lead in half at 13:48, but John Foreman returned the two-goal lead at 18:11 for Norwich. Ryan Dayman and Lamoure had assists. In the third, Chris Eckert cut the lead back to one goal when he scored a power play goal at 3:04, but Parsons made it 4-2 on a shorthanded empty net goal at 18:28. Slaght had the lone assist. The Firebirds regained the goal with 30 seconds left when James Thorpe scored with their net empty, but Norwich held on to take a 2-0 series lead into the coming weekend.

Tyler Gubesch earned the win again, making 21 saves, and Tanner Topham had 30 saves for New Hamburg.

The Merchants combined to have four power play goals on 12 chances and New Hamburg went 1-for-11 in the first two games.

Game 3 is in Baden Friday at 7:30 p.m. then Game 4 returns to Norwich Sunday at 2 p.m. with Game 5, if necessary, Feb. 13 at 7:30 p.m. in Baden.

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gcolgan@postmedia.com