HARBOUR GRACE — The Western Royals improved to .500 hockey and secured third place in the standings with a sweep of the Eastlink CeeBee Stars.
Ryan Sparling scored two goals to lead the Royals to a 4-3 triumph over the cellar-dwelling CeeBee Stars Sunday afternoon in Harbour Grace to give the Royals a weekend sweep in the Newfoundland Senior Hockey League. The Royals, like they did on Sunday, had to hold on for dear life to claim a 4-3 win Saturday night as the CeeBee Stars pressed for the equalizer as puckstopper Bryan Gillis held the fort under intense pressure from the desperate hometown squad.
Darren Langdon and Jake Easton also scored for the Royals in support of winning goaltender Bryan Gillis.
Chris Hulit, Terry Ryan and Keith Delaney scored for the last-place Harbour Grace squad.
“It was a solid effort all around,” Royals coach Ed Kearsey said following Sunday’s win. “We played hard, we got some scoring from other guys that we needed to produce and Gillis was outstanding again.”
Sparling opened the scoring with a short-handed marker at 16:33 of the first period on a setup from Steve North and Ryan Penney.
The Royals took a 2-0 lead into the final stanza when Sparling recorded his second of the game, a solo effort at 17:15 of the middle stanza.
The Royals took a 3-0 lead when Langdon scored on the power play at 3:48 with assists going to North and Mark Robinson.
Hulit broke the goose egg as Gillis was gunning for his first shutout of the year, at 6:38 of the third period on a setup from Robert Slaney, and Terry Ryan erased the deficit to a single marker with his goal from Ray Dalton at 9:45 as the Royals appeared to run out of gas in the later stages for a second-straight game.
Easton scored a short-handed marker from Sparling at 12:41 of the third period to restore a two-goal cushion.
Delaney scored for the CeeBee Stars with just 10 seconds left in regulation time, but Gillis stood his ground during the intense barrage as the hometown squad tried desperately to force a shootout to ensure a point for their effort.
It wasn’t meant to be. However, the good news for the CeeBee Stars is that the Gander Flyers lost both games in a two-game showdown against the second-seed Clarenville Caribous at the Gander Community Centre over the weekend. The Flyers lead the CeeBee Stars by a mere point in the battle for the fourth and final playoff berth.
Meanwhile, Michael Hynes was the top gun for the Royals with a two-goal performance in Saturday’s contest, including a power-play marker at 12:13 of the opening stanza with import Jordan Bonneville picking up the only assist for his first point since being signed before the deadline.
Darren Langdon and Ryan Penney, with a goal and an assist, rounded out the scoring for the Royals with second-period goals on the power play.
Ray Dalton, Robert Slaney and Keith Delaney scored for the cellar-dwelling CeeBee Stars.
The Royals held a comfortable 4-1 advantage heading into the final stanza, but it got too close for any kind of comfort in the third as the CeeBee Stars poured on the pressure in the later stages and got rewarded with Slaney’s power-play goal at 17:24 of the third period and Delaney’s marker with just 97 seconds left in regulation time.
Royals import puckstopper Bryan Gillis made 38 saves to preserve the win against counterpart Mark Yetman, who made 24 saves in a losing effort.
The following is a look at how things unfolded between the Clarenville Caribous and Gander Flyers two-game weekend set at the Gander Community Centre:
Caribous, 8 Flyers 3 (Sunday afternoon)
Dustin Russell notched a hat trick to lead the Caribous to an 8-3 win over the Flyers Sunday to earn another weekend sweep.
Blake Gallagher (2), Mitch Oake, Andrew Sweetland and Ryan Desrosiers also scored for the second-seeded Caribous, who appear destined for a first-round playoff matchup with the third-seed Western Royals unless the Caribous fall apart down the stretch with a handful of games left in the regular season.
Brad Slaney, Chad Locke and Grant Donovan replied for the Flyers.
Caribous 6, Flyers 4 (Saturday night)
Ryan Desrosiers and Dale Sullivan scored two goals apiece to lead the Caribous past the Flyers Saturday night in Gander.
Andrew Sweetland and Mike Stevens rounded out the scoring parade for the herd.
Sean Wadden (2), Chad Locke and Grant Donovan lit the lamp for the Flyers.