(AYR, ON) – In game five of the Schmalz cup semi-finals Thursday night, the Ayr Centennials rallied to win 5-0 against the Essex 73s, after a 3-game loosing streak. Much like how game one of the series played out, the 73s appeared to be having an off night.
The off night continued on Saturday when the Cents defeated the 73’s 5-2 to force the deciding game 7 tonight in Ayr.
Thursday evening, Essex’s starting goalie, Tyler Ryan, held the Centennials off for most of the first period until a late goal by Quinn Diamond. In total, he turned away 24 shots. Relief goalie, Jax D’hondt, turned away an additional 4 shots thrown on net by the Centennials.
It was evident from the start, right up until the end of the game, the defense from both teams was there and strong though, possibly, just not strong enough for the 73s.
“Obviously, we weren’t ready to play, and must give them credit because they wanted it more than us,” said Essex’s Matthew Rosati. “But at the end of the day we’re up 3-2 with a chance to finish them off at home. Everyone’s excited about the opportunity and we’ll be ready come Saturday,”
It didn’t quite turn out as Rosati expected.
Ayr was up 3-0 before Essex registered their first goal in the second period, from Anthony Cristofaro. Early in the 3rd frame Ayr re-established the 3-goal cushion, but Tyler Scott and the 73’s wouldn’t say quit, as they pulled within 2 again.
However, the Centennials sealed the deal with an empty netter with less than 2 minutes to play, forcing the final and deciding game tonight in Ayr. The puck drops at 7:30pm.
The winner of tonight’s match will meet the Port Hope Panthers in the Schmalz Cup finals.
– With files from Ian Shalapata.