BRANTFORD – Like a good race horse, the Brantford Blast saved it up for the final stretch and made their sprint to the front. With a win Sunday afternoon at the Civic Centre, they could beat out the Whitby Dunlops in a photo finish.
After punishing the Dundas Real McCoys – last year’s Allan Cup winners – 8-4 in Dundas Friday night, the Blast entered Sunday afternoon’s last game of the ACH regular season against the Stoney Creek Generals only two points behind the first place Whitby Dunlops and holding one game in hand.
The Blast lost 4-3 in a shootout and will have to settle for second place heading into the ACH playoff race.
Brantford led 2-1 at the end of the first period with goals by David Russell and Kyle Montpetit. Cam Sault added another at 1:42 of the second, but the Generals bounced back late in the period to tie game at 3-3.
The arena went silent at 4:03 of the second period after Stoney Creek’s Dominic Crnogorac took the full force of a cannonading point shot by Jeff Caister in the side of the face near his right eye. He writhed in pain on the ice until his teammates and trainers got to him. He was helped off the ice by his mates and did not return to the bench.
In the third period, Brantford’s Anthony Marshall made at least two game saving stops in the Blast net to keep his team alive, while Daniel Svedin did the same at the other end, forcing an OT five minute period, and eventually a shootout to determine a winner.
Friday night, the Blast took a little time to fire it up and the McCoys took a 1-0 lead into the first intermission. But the furnace was fully stoked by the start of the second as the Blast came to life, scoring five unanswered goals, one of them on a penalty shot scored by Six Nations’ Cam Sault at 1:10.
The Blast owned the second period and held a 5-1 lead with 20 minutes remaining in regulation time.
The McCoys began their comeback drive early in the third period with three straight goals to close the gap to 5-4, but that is as far as Anthony Marshall was going to allow. Meanwhile, the tide shifted and Brantford took control of the second half of the frame with the last three third period goals for the 8-4 final.
As it turned out, Sunday’s game was a preview of the first round of the ACH playoffs, as the Blast and Generals will get down to the real work this Friday night at the Brantford and District Civic Centre at 7:30 p.m.