Admirals push Wheatley to the brink of elimination after OT thriller

 

By Ron Giofu

The Integrity Amherstburg Admirals are one win away from advancing to the Great Lakes Jr. C semi-finals after winning an overtime thriller in Game 3 against the Wheatley Sharks.

Kasey Basile scored 10:49 into overtime to give the Admirals a 5-4 win over the Sharks Tuesday night at the Libro Centre. The win gives the Admirals a three-games-to-none lead in the best-of-seven quarterfinal series.

The Integrity Amherstburg Admirals celebrate a 5-4 overtime victory over the Wheatley Sharks Feb. 9. The win puts Amherstburg up three games to none in the best-of-seven Great Lakes Jr. C quarterfinals. The Admirals can advance with a win Friday night in Wheatley.

The Integrity Amherstburg Admirals celebrate a 5-4 overtime victory over the Wheatley Sharks Feb. 9. The win puts Amherstburg up three games to none in the best-of-seven Great Lakes Jr. C quarterfinals. The Admirals can advance with a win Friday night in Wheatley.

In the early going, it didn’t look as if the Admirals would need overtime in the third game as they built a 3-0 lead after one period on goals by Broden Meloche, Luke Gangnon and Caleb Paquette, Gangnon’s being a shorthanded goal.

Wheatley’s Calyn Kir scored early in the second period but Amherstburg restored its three-goal lead at the 17:32 mark on a goal from Dylan Muzzatti. Wheatley’s Brett Bowman scored an unassisted goal just over one minute after Muzzatti’s goal making it a 4-2 game after two periods.

Wheatley scored two goals in a span of just under two minutes in the third period to force overtime with Mitchell Prudence and Cole Butler doing the damage.

Connor Meyerink was sharp in the Admirals’ goal, making 40 saves on the night, some of which were spectacular.

Admirals head coach Paul Bortignon said it was concerning to lose a 4-1 lead but said “you have to give credit to our guys” for finding a way to win. He credited Meyerink for his performance in goal.

“He was outstanding,” said Bortignon. “Some of the save he made were world class.”

After winning the first two games by a combined score of 14-1, the third game being closer may have been a product of the Admirals having fewer forwards than they would have wanted for the last two games. The team lost Mitch Holden just prior to Game 2 when he was struck in the ear by an errant shot in warmups and played much of Game 3 without Spencer McConville, who was hurt early in the game. That meant playing with 11 forwards the last two games.

“I don’t want to make excuses and say we had tired legs but lost a little energy we had in the last game,” Bortignon said after Tuesday night’s third game.

Bortignon said he was happy with the “moxie” the Admirals showed in pulling the game out.

“We need to finish the job,” he added. “We don’t need to take unnecessary lumps.”

Assistant coach/co-owner Matt Fox noted the home crowd was loud the first two home games and believed that made a difference.

“It helped us tremendously,” said Fox.

Game 4 is Friday at 7:30 p.m. in Wheatley. If the Sharks win that game, Game 5 would be at the Libro Centre Sunday at 7 p.m.

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