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Flyers ousted by Blues in four, finish as West Conference runner-up

After having moved up from the Junior B ranks to that of the OJHL, the lone dream the Leamington Flyers had was to be competitive enough to make the playoffs. 

No one ever suspected that not only would they finish third in the west, but they would make the playoffs and win two series, and compete for the Western Conference title in their inaugural season. 

But for the Flyers, playing an older team which was laden with veteran experience was a daunting task and the Blues showed why they are the defending champions.  

In Collingwood on Tuesday night, April 9, for the opening 30 minutes it looked as though the Flyers might win one game over the Blues. 

But the Blues’ offense overcame the Flyers’ lead and handed them a tough 6-2 loss. 

Along the way, the Flyers lost forward Nathan Leek to a match penalty handed out at 15:25 of the second when he was deemed to have made an attempt to injure a Blues’ player. 

After a scoreless first period, Collingwood opened the scoring. 

Alex Cunningham knotted the game at 1-1 near the six-minute mark. Leek put the Flyers ahead temporarily at 11:03 and it was all downhill from that point. 

The Blues tied it 40 seconds later and tabbed two powerplay goals on the five minute infraction handed to Leek.

Up 4-2 in the third, Collingwood slipped two more goals past Flyers’ starter Sebastian Gatto to make it a 6-2 final.  

Gatto halted 40 of 46 shots, while Collingwood’s Noah Pak stopped 23 of 25. 

Thursday, April 11, with 1,299 fans in attendance, the Collingwood Blues soared out to an early lead 2-0 and held on until the final buzzer when they claimed a 4-2 victory and the West Conference title by 4-0 series sweep.

The boisterous Highbury Canco Arena crowd rallied to spur the Flyers to score, but like in previous games of the series, those goals were hard to obtain.     

It wasn’t the ending Leamington may have wanted as they did cling to hopes of winning at least one contest against the Blues and battled hard on Thursday night.

After falling behind 2-0, Leamington did cut the lead to 2-1 in the second as Anthony Ciaramitaro drilled the handiwork of Jason Davenport and Chris O’Flaherty during a powerplay at 15:36. However, nearly 90 seconds into the third period, the Blues notched their third as Marcus Lougheed slipped the disc past Gatto while perched on the Flyers’ doorstep. 

The Flyers did not surrender easily as they continued to press until at 7:30 Cade Bell and Brayden Degelas hooked passes to Adrian Bosev, whose left point shot eluded Blues’ goalie Noah Pak and made it a 3-2 game. 

But it didn’t take long for the Blues to notch another goal via a right side shot by Jack Rimmer at 8:52. 

At 12:51, Blues forward Spencer Young was handed a match penalty for an attempt to injure but instead of a full five-minute powerplay,  the Flyers were limited to three minutes as Griffin Grundner took a roughing penalty.

The score remained 4-2  even after the Flyers applied some pressure several times and pulled starter Sebastian Gatto during the final two minutes for an extra attacker.  

Both teams shook hands at the conclusion and a league official presented Collingwood with a flag for winning the West Conference title. 

The Blues move into a Buckland Cup berth against either Trenton or Cobourg. 

This week’s
online edition

Wednesday, June 19, 2024

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