CAMPBELLTON, New Brunswick – Gabriel Vanier played the hero in Campbellton for the first game of the Eastlink North semi-final series of the coupe Canadian Tire Cup LHM-MHL played in front of 1,608 spectators, by far the biggest crowd of the season at the Memorial Civic Centre.
Vanier, Blizzard’s top scorer in the season (31 goals) deflected a sharp wrist shot from Olivier-Luc Haché at 5:13 of the second overtime period.
The Blizzard can thank veteran goalkeeper Francis Asselin, who has made many key saves to the delight of more than 200 noisy Edmundston fans who showed up for the first game. Two buses filled with 112 people made the trip to Campbellton to support their team.
Tigers had the edge during the first half of the game. They took the lead by scoring a goal in each of the first two periods. Kyle Petten scored the first goal at 9:02 of the first period on the power play. The same Petten beat Asselin at 14:26 of the middle frame.
The Tigers were in full control until the Blizzard stepped in the third period. Logan Johnston, at 7:18, and Sam King, at 13:40 during a man-advantage, scored to force overtime.
At 8:25 of the first 10-minute overtime period, a Tigers player voluntarily moved the net (according to the officials), which automatically gave a penalty shot to the Blizzard. Instead of sending his top guns, head coach Ryan Salvis opted for defenseman Marc-Antoine Coutre to try to put an end to this exciting night. Couture came alone and made a nice move to fool Gray but the goalie extended his stick at the last moment to keep the puck away.
Vanier (1g, 1a – 1st), Petten (2g – 2nd) and Asselin (3rd) were selected the stars of the game. Olivier-Luc Haché also had a strong game with two assists.
Asselin was brilliant for a third game in a row. He faced 45 shots compared to 39 for Gray.
The series now shift to the Jean-Daigle Centre in Edmundston on Sunday, March 17, at 7:30 pm. This will be the second game of the best of seven series.
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Gabriel Vanier scored the winning goal in the second overtime period. The Blizzard leads the series 1-0 against the Tigers. Photo Digiphoto archives
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Contact: Hugues Chiasson, vice-president communications – The Edmundston Blizzard; (506) 740-0623 – cell