One game will decide EOSHL champs

KINBURN – It’s winner take all Friday (March 6) in Kinburn.

The two best teams in the Eastern Ontario Senior A Hockey League (EOSHL) have battled to a predictable stalemate after the first four games of the league championship. The two teams ended the regular season with almost identical records – the West Carleton Rivermen finished with a 14-2-1-1 record while the Cornwall Prowlers ended with a 14-2-2-0 record.

In the playoffs, both teams easily won their semi-final rounds and have both scored 39 playoff goals so far.

In the championship best-of-five series so far, the Rivermen and Prowlers have each won a home game and a road game. The Rivermen have scored 18 goals and the Prowlers have scored 14 goals.

But all that is ancient history, and the only thing that matters is Game 5, Friday night at 8 p.m. at the Cavanagh Sensplex in Kinburn.

“We are going to have to play our best game of the season, and it starts with our play defensively,” Rivermen coach and general manager Mike Byrne told West Carleton Online today (March 5). “We need to make sure we aren’t taking any unnecessary risks. We need to ensure we aren’t missing any assignments and we have to ensure we are disciplined.”

The Rivermen showed some impressive bounce-back in game four (Feb. 29). The Rivermen lost a heartbreaker at home in game three (Feb. 28). The Rivermen were down 4-0 late in the first before scoring four straight goals of their own and tying the game early in the third. Cornwall would break the tie two minutes later, but the Rivermen fought back and scored two to take the lead.

Cornwall would tie the game with less than five minutes to go and score the winning goal with only two seconds left in the third to take the pivotal game three with a chance to win the championship at home the following day.

Instead of feeling sorry for themselves after a tough loss, the Rivermen girded themselves and came out flying in a must win game on the road. The Rivermen gave up the first goal of the game but scored two in each period for the 6-2 win and a chance to win the EOSHL cup at home tomorrow night.

“The 16 skaters we had in Cornwall on Saturday gave us more than we could ever ask for,” Byrne said. “We went down early, but from then on, nobody took a shift off. Our five defencemen were very solid and our forwards back checked causing many turnovers. Alex Hulford, Ryan Lough and Josh Snider each found the back of the net for us twice, but it was a complete team effort.”

And it gives the Rivermen a chance to win the championship at home. The home-barn advantage may even come in to play tomorrow night. Last Friday the Rivermen had their biggest crowd of the season.

The crowd on Friday was incredible,” Byrne said, hearing them from the other side of the rink. “It has made everything this season worth it. The first ‘Go Rivermen’ Go’ chant was phenomenal. We hope to have everyone back this Friday.”

Byrne knows the Rivermen are in for a battle Friday night, but he’s confident he’s got the team to head in to the trenches with.

“The Prowlers are an extremely skilled team,” Byrne said. “Again, our focus has to be on discipline and defence. We got beat on a couple gambles that should have never happened, and we need to guard against that this week. If you asked me at the start of the season, 100 times out of 100 I’m taking one game to win it all. I love this team, and I’m very confident in their abilities. I know they want to win and I’m very excited for Friday night.”

The EOSHL championship puck drop is 8 p.m. at the Cavanagh Sensplex at Kinburn.