For a second consecutive year the Yarmouth Mariners are heading to the MHL's Eastlink South Division final playoff series.
On Thursday night in Truro the Mariners completed their sweep of the Truro Bearcats in Game 4 of the Canadian Tire Cup division semi-final series with a 7-1 victory in the best-of-seven-game match-up.
Unlike the past two games of the series in which the Mariners won with 14.6 seconds remaining on the clock, and then in overtime, the Mariners gave themselves a huge amount of breathing space by taking a 5-1 lead in the first period.
“It definitely took some stress off for us,” said Mariner Andrew Martell. “Being an elimination game for Truro we knew it was going to be tough. They were going to give us everything they had, but going up 5-1 in the first definitely helped take some stress off us.”
Martell played a big role in that comfortable lead. He scored a natural hat-trick, netting three consecutive goals within a minute and 32 seconds late in the first frame. His goals came at the 17:16, 18:35 and 18:48 marks.
“It finally went my way, I guess," he said. "The first couple of games I had a lot of really good chances but I just couldn’t seem to capitalize on them, but then three quick ones just went in for me. I just got some good bounces,”
Cade Neilson, who had scored the Mariners overtime game winner in Game 3, opened the scoring for the Mariners in the first period on a shot from the blue line.
Truro managed to tie the game 1-1 when Kyle Sexton capitalized on a misplay of the puck by Yarmouth goalie Tyler Caseley behind the Mariners net. Caseley couldn’t get back in time to stop Sexton from scoring.
Logan Timmons broke the tie less than two minutes later, however, going down low and scoring five-hole on Truro goalie Myles Hextor.
Neilson added his second goal in the game during a four-minute Mariners powerplay in the second period.
Timmons also had a second goal in the game, scoring short-handed on a breakaway near the end of the third period.
Giving their starting goalie a rest, the Mariners switched out goalies midway through the third period, putting Alec MacVicar in net. Caseley made 23 saves on 24 shots while in net. MacVicar had six saves on six shots.
The final shots on goal were close at 30 for Truro and 31 for Yarmouth.
The Mariners had a perfect record against Truro this year, winning all seven of their regular season contests in addition to the first four games of this playoff series. This was the second year in a row that the Mariners eliminated Truro after the first round of playoffs. Last year it had taken seven games to do so.
The Mariners, who will have home ice advantage, will either face the Amherst Ramblers or the South Shore Lumberjacks in the division final.
The Mariners will get a rest before that division final series gets underway as the Amherst-South Shore semi-final series is tied 2-2 with Game 5 going on Saturday. The Ramblers won Game 4 of that series on Thursday 4-3 over the Lumberjacks.
A LOOK BACK AT THE TRURO-YARMOUTH SERIES:
Game 1: Yarmouth 6 – Truro 1
Game 2: Yarmouth 2 – Truro 1
Game 3: Yarmouth 3 – Truro 2 (overtime)
Elsewhere in the MHL Thursday night in the Eastlink North Division:
Summerside 5 – St. Stephen 3 (Summerside leads series 3-0)
Campbellton 4 – Edmundston 2 (Campbellton leads series 3-1)
And here's a great Game 4 post-game interview in Truro with Natalie Barron, whose dad Laurie is coach of the Mariners and brother Matthew is a player. March 21 is also World Down Syndrome Day so Natalie had many reasons to celebrate.