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Yarmouth Mariners season comes to an end in Game 6 of MHL final: But what a season it was


YARMOUTH, N.S. – On the road to victory, one team always has to take a detour to Heartbreak City. Such was the case for the Yarmouth Mariners, whose season came to an end in Game 6 of the MHL final.

It was a disappointing end for the Yarmouth Mariners who finished their season just two wins away from capturing the league championship and going to the Fred Page Cup in Ottawa.

On the other hand, the night capped off what has been an amazing season for the team – after all, they finished just two wins away from the capturing the league championship and going to the Fred Page Cup in Ottawa.

“It was a super group to be around. I was so proud to have the chance to coach them. They are a great bunch of kids,” said head coach Laurie Barron, following the game.

“I just felt so bad. We won our division, which was an accomplishment, but to get this group to go to Ontario would have been super.”

Barron said there wasn’t any player on the team who didn’t give everything they had.

“After the sting goes away we’ll look back and say it was a hell of a year,” he said. “We’re back on the map now. We’ll go on from there. We’re going to get another chance to win that last game of the season.”

He just wishes it had been this year.

This had been a tight series between the Yarmouth Mariners and the Edmundston Blizzard. The first four games of the series saw the Blizzard win two games in double overtime, the Mariners had an overtime victory and won another game by a score of just 1-0. In those first four games, neither team ever held more than a one-goal lead either during the game or at the final buzzer.

After a 6-2 loss in Game 5 that put the Blizzard ahead 3-2 in the series, the Mariners were looking for one last win on home ice on April 24 to push the series to a Game 7.

The Blizzard took a 1-0 lead in the first period on a goal by Gabriel Vanier. The Mariners had a flurry of scoring chances at the end of the first period but couldn’t reach the back of the net.

Edmundston extended its lead to 2-0 in the first minute and seven seconds of the second period with a goal by Alexandre Jacob. The Mariners cut that lead in half at 2:45 of the second period on a goal by Brent Broaders but the celebration was short-lived as Edmundston’s Logan Johnston scored just 21 seconds later, putting the team up 3-1. Aaron Maillet later scored to put the Mariners within one again.

A 4-2 score is how the third period opened. The period remained a scoreless affair with the Mariners pinging one of the goal post late in the period. The Mariners pulled goalie Leif Hertz from net with 2:53 left in the period for the extra attacker. The Blizzard’s final goal would come on the Mariners empty net with three seconds left in the game for the 5-2 win.

During the game Hertz stopped 28 of 32 Blizzard shots. In net for Edmundston goalie Francis Asselin stopped 36 of 38 Mariners shots.

For the Blizzard, the league win marks the franchise’s first playoff title since 2015, when the team was located in Dieppe and went by the name Commandos.

The two teams shook hands at the conclusion of the game, with several embraces between players along the way. Fans in the Mariners Centre gave the Mariners a resounding, and much-deserved, salute for their season, with the Blizzard team joining in that applause.

The Mariners finished the regular season in first place in their division with 71 points – 35 wins, 14 losses and one overtime loss – which placed them second place overall in the league behind the Edmundston Blizzard who had 76 points. The Mariners defeated the Truro Bearcats in seven games in their semi-final playoff series and won the Eastlink South Division in five games over the South Shore Lumberjack.

This was the team’s first trip back to the MHL final since 2012.

Not winning the league final was heartbreaking for the team, but looking back it was a great season.

“It was certainly an improvement over last year and it was a great group of guys,” said player Noah McMullin. “It’s friendships we’ll have forever.”

McMullin said from a personal perspective he was very pleased with his play this year. He recorded a hat-trick in Game 1 of the series, although ever the gracious player he smiles and says, “I think one of those might have been tipped.”

“But I certainly feel like I grew as a player. I took on a bit of a leadership role at the end of the year and just did what I could to help the team,” he said, adding playing in Yarmouth is always an amazing experience. “It’s a great atmosphere, it just doesn’t get much better than this . . . it was great support from the town.”

The Mariners see nine players graduating from Jr. A at the conclusion of this season: Adam Pilotte, Duncan McKie, Kyle Bergh, Ben Chipman, Patrick Daley, Leif Hertz, Aaron Maillet, Matthew Smith and Luc Poirier.

Poirier, while disappointed the team didn't capture the league title, agreed there is much to be proud of at the end of this season.

“It was a great season. I’m proud of every single one of the guys that were in that dressing room with me. I thought we were going to be able to win it all, but unfortunately we just couldn’t get bounces,” he said. “Edmundston is a really great hockey team. I’ve played against some of those players my whole life. I’m happy for them that they were able to win if it couldn’t be us, but just disappointed by the way it turned out.”

It is always the goal of any team to make it all the way to the end, and the Mariners had adopted a mantra – Let’s Play in May, in reference to the Fred Page Cup happening May 2-6.

Asked if he foresaw the team making it this far, and this close, Poirier said, “It’s hard to tell at the start of the season sometimes, but with this team, as well as we came together so early, and we were able to get through some adversity early, I knew there was something special.”

He said once the team won that playoff Game 7 against Truro – which Poirier couldn’t play in due to an injury – he knew they were going to go all the way, or come very close. He said this was a great team.

“I’d rather lose with the group of guys in our dressing room, than win with anyone else.”

MARINERS MEET AND GREET

There will be a Meet the Mariners event at the Mariners Centre on Wednesday, April 25 at 7 p.m. to say hello (and goodbye) to the Mariners. Fans will have the opportunity for autographs, photos and to congratulate the players on a great season.

The Yarmouth Mariners won the MHL Eastlink South Division championship after winning Game 5 by a score of 4-2 over the South Shore Lumberjacks at the Mariners Centre on April 8.  TINA COMEAU
The Yarmouth Mariners won the MHL Eastlink South Division championship after winning Game 5 by a score of 4-2 over the South Shore Lumberjacks at the Mariners Centre on April 8. TINA COMEAU

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