Sports

Merchants put Firebirds on brink of elimination

By Colin Percy

The Norwich Merchants kicked off the playoffs with back to back wins and looked to take a commanding 3-0 lead when they traveled to New Hamburg for Game 3 of their quarterfinal series against the Firebirds on Friday night, Feb. 10.

The Firebirds opened the scoring 12:13 into the game – the lone goal of the first period that saw back and forth action between the teams. The second period was a rough one for the Merchants. Two goals in a 19-second span made it 3-0 for the Firebirds. They quickly made it 4-0 at the 7:13 mark of the middle frame. A powerplay goal with 4:02 left gave the Firebirds a 5-0 lead. They would add a fifth goal later giving the Firebirds a 6-0 lead after 40 minutes. Norwich didn't quit in the third period, firing shots at the New Hamburg net, but the team couldn't buy a goal in the final frame. New Hamburg went scoreless in the third period as well that saw Norwich out-shoot New Hamburg 16-5. Tyler Gubesch made 20 saves in the loss while Patrick Tanner made seven saves in relief.

Norwich headed into Game 4 Sunday, Feb. 12 with a 2-1 series lead and hoped to restore their two-game series lead in front of the home fans. Things didn't start well for Norwich as the Firebirds popped in the opening goal 5:40 into the game. Mason Cooper would equalize for Norwich mid-way through the period to knot the game at aces following the first period. Ray Munro backhanded in the go-ahead goal for Norwich 10:13 into the second period.

The teams battled back and forth in the third, but nobody could score until late in the frame when Troy Lamoure whistled in his third of the playoffs to give Norwich a two-goal advantage. The Firebirds would claw one back with 2:32 remaining, but fell short losing 3-2 to Norwich as the Merchants put the Firebirds on the brink of elimination. Riley Monture, Matt Caskanette, Derek Slaght, Jesse Dunn and Brett Parsons notched assists for Norwich while Tyler Gubesch made 28 saves in the win.

OVERTIME

Kiley Joe Masson will be appearing at the Norwich Community Centre on Saturday, March 15. The concert and dance takes place from 2-5 p.m. Lunch is available as well. $15 Tickets are available from all Merchant executive members or from Ken Cornish.