Admirals and Blades tied at two wins apiece after four semi-final games

 

 

 

By Ron Giofu

 

Things are even in the Amherstburg-Blenheim Great Lakes Jr. C semi-final after four games.

The series was tied in dramatic fashion Sunday night when Kasey Basile scored 2:36 into overtime to give the Admirals a 4-3 victory in Game 4. Blenheim entered the game with a 2-1 series lead following a 5-1 Blades’ victory in Game 3 Saturday night in Blenheim. Ryan Holzel had the only Amherstburg goal in that game.

Caleb Paquette tries a wrap-around against Blenheim goalie Klinton Kenney during Sunday night's Game 4 at the Libro Centre. Amherstburg won 4-3 in overtime.

Caleb Paquette tries a wrap-around against Blenheim goalie Klinton Kenney during Sunday night’s Game 4 at the Libro Centre. Amherstburg won 4-3 in overtime.

Things looked positive for the Admirals through 40 minutes as first period goals by Ryan Wismer and Dylan Muzzatti gave Amherstburg a 2-0 lead. However, Blenheim rallied to tie the game at two thanks to goals from Dustin Maines and Drew Marlatt. Travis Campbell put Amherstburg back in front with just over five minutes to play but Brayden Hopkins forced overtime with just 1:29 to play in regulation time.

It was the second overtime goal of the playoffs for Basile, who downplayed his overtime heroics.

“I got a little lucky and finished the job for us,” said Basile. “I’ve got a guardian angel looking over me.”

Basile said the team was down after losing two third period leads but got their legs back in overtime.

“Once overtime came, it was game over,” he said. “They didn’t get a shot, basically.”
The Admirals outshot Blenheim 40-39 in Game 4, including 6-1 in overtime.

Amherstburg still has to win in Blenheim to win the series and Basile said “if everyone does their job, everything will be fine.”

Admirals head coach Paul Bortignon called it a “gutsy win” after the Admirals had lost 2-0 and 3-2 leads in the third period. He said they could have got down on each other but stuck together and believed in each other instead.

“For us, it’s momentum,” he said. “Those overtime winners are special.”

Bortignon also pointed out it was Basile’s second overtime winner of the playoffs, as he also scored in overtime against Wheatley.

“He’s going to remember those forever,” said Bortignon. “For some of us, this is our NHL. We have to cherish every game.”

The Admirals have to play hard and limit turnovers, he added, and Bortignon believed that will lead to success.

In Game 2, the Admirals were powered by a Ryan Alexander hat trick in a 5-2 victory at the Libro Centre. Two of Alexander’s goals came in the first period and sandwiched a Luke Gangnon power play goal. Amherstburg led 3-0 after one period.

The Integrity Amherstburg Admirals celebrate their 4-3 overtime win Sunday night. Kasey Basile scored the game winner.

The Integrity Amherstburg Admirals celebrate their 4-3 overtime win Sunday night. Kasey Basile scored the game winner.

That game tightened in the second period as Blenheim’s Kirk McKillop and Maines made it a 3-2 game but Alexander’s third of the night with 4:07 to play and an empty net goal from Broden Meloche put the game away for the Admirals.

“It was a good game, a hard fought game,” said Alexander.

Alexander was unsure if the team had “road legs” in the first game of the series, a 4-3 Blenheim overtime win Tuesday night, but he said they came out hard in Game 2. The team had won four straight heading into the first game but the team rebounded from the loss as Alexander noted it is tough to keep winning streaks going.

As for his hat trick, Alexander was modest about the accomplishment.

“I’ve got a great line and great teammates behind me,” he said.

The team had a “tough” second period, he added, but bounced back in the third and finished the job.

“It was a huge win for us,” said Alexander. “If we got down 2-0 going back to their barn, who knows what could have happened?”

Bortignon believed the team had a better overall effort Tuesday night in the game they lost. He said Thursday’s first period was a “five star” performance but the team didn’t play as well in the second period.

“It’s a playoff win,” said Bortignon.

The team played with five defenseman in each of the first two games, he noted, but gave themselves a chance to win both.

“We’re doing our part to give ourselves a chance to win,” said Bortignon.

Game 5 is Tuesday night in Blenheim, which will be after the print issue of the River Town Times goes to press.. Visit www.rivertowntimes.com to see how the Admirals did in that pivotal game. Win or lose, they return to the Libro Centre Thursday at 7 p.m. for Game 6.

If necessary, Game 7 would be in Blenheim Sunday night at 7:15 p.m.

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