By Manotick Messenger Staff
While the mayhem of an on-ice celebration took place and fans in a packed Richmond Memorial Community Centre cheered on, Richmond Royals goalie Mavric Welk slipped away from the pile of teammates and skated over to Ottawa Jr. Canadians goalie Felix Schnell to give him words of encouragement.
The Royals had just won their Eastern Ontario Junior Hockey League game 4-3 in double overtime, winning their quarterfinal series 4-1. Schnell may go down on the stats sheet as the losing goalie, and he was not even one of the game’s three stars. But Schnell was the best player on the ice, as he had been throughout the series.
Schnell made 71 saves in a losing effort, once again facing nearly double the amount of rubber fired at Welk. But when all was said and done, a seeing eye shot from Sam McElheran found its way past Schnell to give the Royals a 4-3 win and a ticket to the semi-finals.
The Canadians were in control of the game for the first two periods. Max Lacroix scored a pair of goals for the Canadians while Michael Bernier scored from Reid Johnston and Jaidon Genereux for the Royals.
Luke Going scored for the Canadians in the second period to make the score 3-1, and then the Canadians put on a penalty killing clinic and stifled four Royals power plays.
In the third period, the Canadians bottled up the Royals in the neutral zone. When the Royals did get into the offensive zone, Schnell was unflappable.
Midway through the period, veteran Curran Gilmour took a shot from the point that was tipped by Sam McElerhan, handcuffing Schnell and making the score 3-2. Gilmour, one of the top Royals players over the past three seasons, recently rejoined the team after spending most of the season near his hometown of Iroquois and playing Junior C hockey with the Morrisburg Lions. The 20-year-old offensive defenceman appeared in two regular season games, and this was his first appearance in the playoffs.
With under five minutes remaining in the third, the Royals handcuffed Schnell with another redirection. McElerhan fed the puck to Sheldon Lyons, whose shot was deflected in by Tyler Cutts.
The Royals, who outshot Ottawa 22-7 in the third period, had a chance to win the game in regulation time when Jayden Lake of the Canadians was given a five-minute penalty for a check from behind. The Royals were unable to capitalize as Schnell was at his best.
The Canadians killed off the remainder of the penalty and had three two-on-one breaks in the first overtime. Welk was up for challenge and had to flash the pads three times in a five minute stretch for the Royals.
While the referees had more or less put their whistles away and it was Hudson’s Bay hockey, Chazka Bush of the Canadians delivered a vicious check from behind into the boards to Richmond’s Shelden Lyons. Chazka was given a five minute major and a game misconduct, putting the Royals back on an extended power play.
For nearly three minutes, the Canadians and Schnell shut down the Royals. Fially, after 17:37 of play in the second overtime period, the only player who has been able to consistently score on Schnell struck again. McElheran intercepted a pass and beat Schnell to score his sixth goal of the series to give Richmond a 4-3 win and a 4-1 series victory. McElheran scored only four goals in the regular season.
The Royals will now face the winner of the series between the Embrun Panthers and Casselman Vikings. The Vikings won Sunday to take a 3-2 series lead with Game 6 Wednesday night in Embrun. The winner of that series will face Richmond Sunday afternoon at the Richmond Memorial Community Centre for Game 1 at 1:20 p.m.