Blizzard reaches the semifinal!

Blizzard express Dany Coulombe scored a hat trick on Friday. He leads the Fred Page Cup’s snipers with 4 goals. Photo archives Olivier Chiasson

OTTAWA, Ontario – David has once again defeated Goliath!

Inspired by an extraordinary performance by forward Dany Coulombe and goalkeeper Francis Asselin, the 19th-ranked Edmundston Blizzard reached the Fred Page Cup semifinal after beating the Carleton Place Canadians, 2ndin Canada, by the score of 5-3 on Friday in Ottawa.

The Canadians were eliminated from the championship and they still have to wonder who this hurricane or “blizzard” was in the opposing camp… Number 4 Coulombe scored three goals and Asselin repelled 39 shots to guide the Blizzard, third in the round robin standings, to the next playoff game on Saturday night (7 pm local time) against the Collège français de Longueuil who finished 2ndin the standings after loosing 3-2 in a shootout on Friday night against Ottawa. In the preliminary round, the Blizzard fell 6-3 to the Collège français.

The Great Wall Asselin has once again amazed the gallery on Friday with spectacular stops, frustrating the Canadians players who crushed Blizzard’s defense by outshooting Edmundston 42-18.

Coulombe opened the scoring at 2:09 of the first period following a two-man advantage power play. He beat the goalkeeper with a thunderous one-timer slap shot. Then, the Canadians tied the score at 4:48. The second goal of Coulombe was a beauty and worthy of a great player. The Blizzard iced twice the puck in the enemy zone and could not, according to the rules, change the players on the ice. Even though his linemates were literally exhausted, Coulombe still had some reserves and he took advantage of a defenseman mistake at the Edmundston blue line to fly away alone against the Carleton Place goalkeeper he fooled five-hole. That goal, at 18:40, gave Blizzard wings who kept its lead until the end.

In the second frame, the Blizzard hit early. During a power play, defenseman Nolan Alward snapped a wrist shot from the point that allowed the Blizzard to take the lead 3-1 at 3:50. The goal also chased goalkeeper Michael Leach out of the game. He gave up three goals in only seven shots. His substitute, Jérémie Forget, was greeted hard by Coulombe who fooled him at 6:44 by deflecting a Gabriel Vanier pass in the goal crease. This third goal of the game by Coulombe proved to be the winner.

The Canadians gave the Blizzard defense some cold sweats at they multiplied the attacks and they managed to score two straight goals (at 7:56 and 13:10) to narrow the gap to 4-3.

The Blizzard knocked out the Canadians in the third period when Maxime Grandmaison beat goalkeeper Forget with a one-time shot after a play prepared by Samuel Bastille and Vincent Rioux. The officials credited Tristan Mercure with the goal, but the defenseman was on the bench when the goal was scored.

Sam Allison, Samuel Knoblauch and Justin Cmunt are the only ones who have been able to beat Asselin, the star goalie of the dhampionship. After the win, people may realize that head coach Ryan Salvis had a genius idea by removing Asselin from Thursday’s game in the second period to give him some rest for Friday’s crucial match up.

By losing 6-3 Thursday against the Longueuil Collège français, Edmundston Blizzard no longer has room for mistake. The team must win Friday afternoon in regulation time against the Carleton Place Canadians if he wants to finish in 3rdplace and hope to continue in the semi-finals of the Fred Page Cup Championship held in Ottawa.

Thursday, Ryan Salvis’s squad had another bad first period after which the Collège français led 3-0. Edmundston’s head coach then wanted to shake his team by replacing his goalkeeper Francis Asselin by Myles Hektor.

The strategy paid off early in the median period as Kyle Ward scored at 8 seconds only. But the Blizzard could never get closer to one goal as Longueuil always responded.

Ward scored all Blizzard’s goals. Jason Lanoue (2), Vincent Chapleau, William St-Jacques, Samuel Sénécal and William Lemay scored for the Collège français who won their two round-robin matches so far.

Special units have been the Blizzard’s pet peeve. Collège français capitalized twice on three occasions on its powerplay compared to 1-6 for the Blizzard who scored during a two-man advantage. Moreover, the Blizzard allowed a shorthanded goal to the Collège français.

The Blizzard lost their two round robin games. Carleton Place, who felt short in its first game on Wednesday, played late Thursday night against Ottawa. Friday, Carleton Place and Edmundston will face each other at 3:30 (local time) in a deciding game. In the event of a Carleton Place victory on Thursday night, Blizzard will have to defeat them in regulation time on Friday to earn third place. In the event of a loss by Carleton Place on Thursday night, Friday’s winner between Carleton Place and Edmundston  in regulation time or overtime will qualify for the semifinal on Saturday (2ndagainst 3rd). In the case of a tie between two teams in the standings, it is the result of the game between the two that determines the winner.

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Contact: Hugues Chiasson, vice-president communications – The Edmundston Blizzard; (506) 740-0623 – cell phone