(BELLE RIVER, ON) – The Lakeshore Canadiens’ first foray into the Provincial Junior Hockey League’s championship rounds since 2011 has started off in a good way. On Tuesday night, the Canadiens pummelled the Yeck Division champions, the Lambeth Lancers, outshooting them 42-18, and walked away with 3-2 victory to take a 1-0 lead in their best-of-seven West Conference finals.
Despite being outshot 13-4 in the opening frame, Lambeth was the team to open the series scoring. Just over eight minutes into the game, Ryan Martin snapped the puck behind Lakeshore’s Erik Morneau to jump to the early lead. With less than five minutes to go in the period, Kyler Carter responded for the home team, to the delight of the 728 in attendance at the Atlas Tube Centre in Belle River.
Almost midway through the second, Ameen Fadel ripped the mesh behind the Lancers’ Zack Weir to gain Lakeshore’s first lead of the young series. The Habs kept chipping away until, early in the final stanza, Dylan Bradley gave his team an insurance marker.
Lambeth’s goal minutes later, by Ray Robbins, cut Lakeshore’s lead to 3-2, but his team could not mount a full comeback.
Twenty-year-old Weir, a veteran of over 90 Junior B games more than three seasons, between the London Nationals and Strathroy Rockets, was a late-season pick up between the pipes for the Lancers. Having only played 12 games of Junior C, he sits with an even 2.00 goals-against average and .944 save percentage in the playoffs, following his 25 game stint in Strathroy.
Weir’s 39 saves, despite losing, turned the game from a possible blowout into a competitive affair.
Morneau, who Lakeshore acquired at the start of the season from the Wheatley Sharks, improved his playoff record to 12-1, and sports a 1.79 GAA and .923 SvPct. He continued his strong play, stopping 16-of-18 chances.
The Canadiens and Lancers are back in action on Friday when they meet at Lambeth Arena for an 8:30pm puck drop. The Habs’ next home game, Game 3, will be played on Sunday at 7:30pm, again at the Atlas Tube Centre.
The winner of the West Conference final will play in the Schmalz Cup semi-final against the winner of the South Conference. Currently in that series the Glanbrook Rangers lead the Tavistock Braves one game to none.