The McLean & Dickey Orillia Terriers have knotted up their first-round Provincial Junior Hockey League playoff series with the Innisfil Spartans.
After falling behind in the series with a 5-3 loss on Tuesday in Innisfil, the Terriers bounced back with a 4-2 victory on Saturday night in front of a home crowd of around 250 Jr. C hockey fans at Rotary Place.
The Terriers were the first to strike 10 minutes into the first period when regular season goal-scoring leader Josh Brown fed captain Dylan Palomaki a cross-crease pass during a two-on-one. Palomaki slid the puck past Spartans goaltender Aidan Jerry, who stopped 29 of 33 shots on the night.
“I was thinking shoot originally but Pal was yelling at me and giving me the eyes,” Brown said. “I gave it to him and he made a good move.”
Brown says it was important for the Terriers to get on the board first in Game 2.
“We struggled with bouncing back from bad starts all year,” he said. “Getting up a goal gave the boys the momentum and we continued to do our thing,”
While Brown and Palomaki usually play on different lines, the first goal of the game on Saturday night came off a rush where the Terriers were changing.
“We don’t usually get on the ice together at the same time,” Brown said. “We played a lot together last year and have a natural chemistry.”
The Spartans returned to the ice for the second period with new-found energy. Defenceman Jake Norman tied up the score just 43 seconds in with a wrist shot from the slot.
The Terriers kept hammering away at Jerry and regained their lead five minutes later when forward Brady Mclaren banged home a loose puck out in front of the net.
The Spartans would respond once more when forward Lucas Drobczyk snapped a wrist shot past Terriers’ goaltender Reed Spinola, knocking the water bottle off the net to tie the game at two with three minutes left in the period.
With time expiring, the captain pulled clutch again. Palomaki scooped the puck off a draw in the offensive zone, danced around the Spartans' defence, and tucked it home to allow the Terriers to head into the dressing room with a 3-2 lead.
“It felt good to give us that lead going into the third period,” Palomaki said. “We were zoned in from there on.”
The Terriers took over the game in the third period. The Spartans found themselves in the penalty box twice in the first six minutes and the Terriers used it to their advantage to completely dominate time of possession and momentum. After a flurry of chances, Terriers' forward Devon Edmonds scored on a wrist shot from in tight.
“I think that goal showed that we were locking it down,” Edmonds said. “We weren’t going to let them back in.”
Edmonds says scoring in the playoffs is always a special feeling.
“The building is way more packed during the playoffs,” he said. “You really hear the crowd when there is a goal and it feels really cool.”
Spinola was solid in net for the Terriers, denying 27 of 29 shots on goal and all 10 in the third period. He will get the start again in Game 3 when the Terriers head to Innisfil on Sunday afternoon with a chance to take a 2-1 series lead.
“It feels good knowing the team has confidence in me and trusts me back there,” Spinola said after the victory.
Spinola says he will be ready tomorrow when the puck drops at 6:30 p.m.
“We know we can beat these guys,” he said. “We just have to go in there and play the same way we did tonight.”
Game four brings the series back to Rotary Place on Tuesday at 7:30 p.m.