Falcons force Game 7
The St. Catharines Falcons were determined not to let history repeat itself.
After blowing a 4-0 lead Friday in an eventual 6-5 overtime loss, the Falcons once again raced out to a 4-0 lead Sunday, but this time made it stick.
Christian Girhiny collected four goals to pace the Falcons past the Niagara Falls Canucks 6-2 in a Greater Ontario Junior Hockey League, Golden Horseshoe Conference game at Jack Gatecliff Arena.
That sets up Game 7 Monday in Niagara Falls for a one game, winner-take-all showdown for the Golden Horseshoe title.
The winner moves on to the Sutherland Cup semifinal playoffs versus Waterloo from the Midwest Conference and London from the West Conference.
Should Niagara Falls lose, they would be awarded the wild card, which is based on the top winning percentage of the non-conference champions.
Should Niagara Falls win, the Listowel Cyclones of the Mid West Conference will advance.
The Falcons need to win to advance.
“I’m real proud of us,” Falcons head coach/general manager Frank Girhiny said. “Our backs were to the wall against the No. 1 team in the province. “They said they were champions, etc.
“Now, everything is off the board. It’s a clean slate. We win and we advance. They’re advancing, regardless.”
Frank Girhiny said the Falcons didn’t particularly focus on anything specific once they established a 4-0 lead.
“We didn’t even talk about what happened the other night. We just talked about what we needed to do. We got away from it a little bit — they’re going to press us — but we bent and then came right back after that.
“We just talked about continuing to do what we were doing for every shift.”
Christian Girhiny agreed, noting the Falcons learned their lesson.
“It’s playoff hockey and you can have a 7-0 lead and it’s not a safe lead,” he said. “They’re the No. 1 team in the province for a reason. They can score at anytime but we had to stay composed.
“When you’re up 4-0, you have to keep every play simple. We didn’t need anybody trying to be Wayne Gretzky trying to dipsy doodle through the team. We just needed to get it out and force their defence.”
The line of Girhiny, Jacob Roach (1-4) and Xavier Drummond (1-3) accounted for all six goals and 13 scoring points.
As well, St. Catharines goaltender Noah Battaglia bounced back from a sub-par effort in Game 5 to make 26 saves.
Niagara Falls coach Frank Pietrangelo, who watched from the stands while serving the second of his two-game suspension, said the Canucks simply have to be better.
“They were a more desperate hockey club,” he said. “They were facing elimination tonight and they played like they were. I don’t think we did and we weren’t (facing elimination).
“We have to match their intensity. We weren’t good enough to win tonight. We have to play a lot better. I hope our focus will be better tomorrow, I’m sure it will.
“We have to be better in every aspect.”
Frank Girhiny is confident the Falcons will bring their A game with their season and a championship on the line.
“We’re feeling good right now. We’ve played exceptionally good in Niagara Falls. I don’t expect us not to play well tomorrow night.”
Pietrangelo, meanwhile, said the fact the Canucks already have a spot in the Sutherland Cup semifinals, is irrelevant.
“We’ve known we’ve been in since the first game of the finals,” he said. “Our goal is to win the series. That’s always been our focus.”
Falcon facts: Joseph Colasurdo, Ethan Sims and Noah Blakely did not dress for the Falcons . . . Justin Kyle was scratched for the Canucks . . . A moment of silence was held for former Fort Erie Meteors owner Tony Passero, who passed away Saturday.
Falcons 6 Canucks 2
BPSN Star of the Game: St. Catharines forward Christian Girhiny with four goals. St. Catharines Falcons: Girhiny 4 (11, 12, 13, 14); Jacob Roach (12); Xavier Drummond (9).
Niagara Falls Canucks: Patrick McCabe (4); Luke McFarlane (2).
Game stats: Shots on goal: By St. Catharines on Zach Moore/Anthony Tremonte (33), by Niagara Falls on Noah Battaglia (28); Power plays: St. Catharines 2-for-7, Niagara Falls 0-for-8; Penalty minutes: St. Catharines 28, Niagara Falls 38.
Up next: Game 7 Monday at the Gale Centre at 7 p.m.
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