YARMOUTH, N.S. – What a difference a goal makes.
Had the Edmundston Blizzard scored the overtime winner in Game 4 of this MHL championship final they would have taken a commanding 3-1 series lead over the Yarmouth Mariners.
But that’s not what happened.
The Mariners scored the game winner in OT to tie the series 2-2.
Now one of these teams is just two wins away from winning the league championship and advancing to the Fred Page Cup eastern Canadian championship in Ottawa.
Game 5 goes Sunday afternoon in Edmundston. Game 6 will be played in Yarmouth on Tuesday evening.
Whether this series goes to an all-deciding Game 7, we shall see.
The Mariners took a 1-0 lead in the first period of Game 4 on an unassisted goal by Andrew Martell at 13:24. Each team went on the power play during the first period, with neither scoring.
There was no scoring in the second period, which saw Edmundston sent to the box three times and the Mariners once. The Mariners greatly outshot the Blizzard in the second period with 20 shots on net compared to Edmundston’s nine, but Blizzard goalie Francis Asselin had another solid night in net. The Blizzard also killed off a 29-second five-on-three power play by the Mariners in the second period.
There was a bit of an anxious moment early in the third period when Mariners goalie Leif Hertz was slow to get up after a collision at the Mariners net, but he was fine.
It stayed a 1-0 game until there was 8:56 left in the third period when Edmundston’s Dany Coulombe, assisted by Gabriel Vanier, scored to tie the game 1-1.
Throughout this entire season neither team has ever led by more than one goal when they’ve been ahead.
In a series that has already seen two-double overtimes – in Games 1 and 3 with the Blizzard winning each of those – the Mariners fans in the building were hoping not to see another overtime. Yarmouth, however, took a late boarding penalty with one minute and 20 seconds left in the game and playing shorthanded weren’t able to score before regulation ended.
The winning goal in overtime was scored by Brendan Young, assisted by Kyle Bergh.
“It was pretty incredible,” said Young after the game, when asked about the goal. “It’s just fun to be with the guys, my linemates, we work really hard every shift. To get that one was pretty important.”
Young said both teams in this series are pretty evenly matched. “Both teams work really hard, it could have gone either way. I’m just glad we got the win,” he said.
There was a scramble in front of the net when Young scored the goal. He was asked to describe the goal.
“It’s a bit of a blur, but I just remember we were banging away at it in front of the net, me and my linemates, and then I kind of got crosschecked to my knees and I just backhanded it and it went in,” he said.
During these playoffs the Mariners, with home ice advantage, went seven games with the Truro Bearcats in the division semi-final and five games with the South Shore Lumberjacks in their division final. Edmundston has home ice advantage in this final series. The Mariners have already played Games 1 and 2 in Edmundston and will head back there Saturday in advance of Sunday’s game.
Asked what the playoffs have been like, Young said, “It’s been hard. It’s tiring. You’ve got to get on a bus every other day and make long trips, but it’s a lot of fun and it’s all worth it in the end.”
Young was named first star of Game 4.
Mariners goalie Leif Hertz, who stopped 33 of 34 Blizzard shots, was named second star.
Francis Asselin, who stopped 42 of 44 Mariners shots, was named third star.