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2023 Kelly Cup Playoffs

Growlers Bite Back in Ferocious Game Three

Growlers Bite Back in Ferocious Game Three

ESTERO, Fla. – After a poor performance in game one and a blown lead in game two, the Newfoundland Growlers needed to come back with a vengeance in game three of their best-of-seven series against the Florida Everblades.  The Growlers had scored first in game two Saturday but gave up that lead and ultimately fell in double-overtime.  They would not make that same mistake again Monday, this time keeping the lead and building on it throughout the game.  Newfoundland scored four straight goals and kept Florida off the board until the third period, taking tumultuous game three by a score of 4-1.

Keenan Suthers got the scoring under way with his goal 12:39 into the game, capitalizing on the first period’s lone penalty, a roughing call on John McCarronOrrin Centazzo started the play with a backhand pass to Zach O’Brien, who skated up the ice with the puck and got a shot off on Florida netminder Cam Johnson.  Johnson made the save, but O’Brien picked up the rebound and passed it to Suthers in front of the net, and he was ready to put it home.

Later in the period Matt Hellickson sent a pass up the ice to Tyler Boland, who skated into the offensive zone with Centazzo.  Boland passed across to Centazzo, who beat Johnson for the 2-0 lead.

The Growlers extended their lead less than a minute into the middle frame.  Mikko Kokkonen took a shot that Johnson stopped, but Todd Skirving snuck the puck behind him for the goal.

Newfoundland’s fourth consecutive goal came on a two-on-one break for Suthers and Isaac Johnson.  Isaac Johnson wristed the puck past Cam Johnson’s glove for the commanding 4-0 lead.

About ten minutes later the real fun began.  Awaiting a faceoff in the Growlers zone, Florida’s Sean Josling and Newfoundland’s Brennan Kapcheck began pushing and shoving.  While the officials were tending to that, other players came together and it was quickly out of control.  As soon as the officials separated one pair, another pair squared off.  By the time all was said and done, there were three double-minors and two ten-minute misconducts assessed to each team.

But it wasn’t entirely over just yet.  Seconds later, Blake Winiecki ran into Growlers goalie Luke Cavallin and lost his helmet, then shoved the netminder before heading toward the bench.  He was sent to the penalty box for the helmet violation.  The remaining seconds ticked off the clock without incident.

Overshadowed by all the extracurriculars was Cavallin, who remained perfect throughout the opening 40 minutes.  The rookie had not started in net since his loss in game one of the North Division Semifinals, though he did come on in relief of fellow rookie Dryden McKay in game four of the North Division Final.

Winiecki went on to net a goal for Florida in the third period, ending Cavallin’s shutout bid.  Logan Lambdin brought the puck into the offensive zone but lost it.  Winiecki picked it up and threw it past Cavallin to make it 4-1.

Things went south again about six minutes later.  Kapcheck collided with Will Calverley mid-ice and the two came together after the whistle.  Calverley skated away but Levko Koper came in and gave Kapcheck’s helmet a tug.  They both headed to their respective penalty boxes.  A few minutes later, Koper was at it again, this time with Zach SolowCole Moberg hit O’Brien along the boards and Koper came in, quickly followed by Solow.  Those two were both sent off after a wrestling match.

Things cooled down a bit…for a couple minutes.  Then with only 24.1 seconds remaining in the game, Jack Badini hit Lukas Kälble in the Everblades zone, and Stefan Leblanc came in to defend his teammate.  Everyone else on the ice paired up as well, and all hell broke loose yet again.  This time there were eleven ten-minute misconducts handed out, one for each skater on the ice, plus goaltender Johnson, who ventured out to center ice to challenge his opponent Cavallin.  Ben Masella also received a misconduct for jawing at the officials from the penalty box.  This final round of penalties brought the grand total to 41 infractions amassing 218 minutes.

But wait, there’s more.  According to Florida’s broadcaster, Mike Kelly, the two teams are booked for the same flight to Canada.  And that will be a long flight, as Estero is nearly 3000 miles away from St. John’s.  After a game like this, you could probably cut the tension with a knife.

With the victory, Newfoundland now trails Florida 2-1 in the series.  The teams will face off in St. John’s for games four and five Thursday and Sunday, and if needed, games six and seven next week.

Download the Field Pass Hockey app from the iTunes or Google Play stores or follow @FieldPassHockey on Twitter for the latest news on the AHL, ECHL, and SPHL throughout the 2023 season!

    Carrie Roberts covers the Adirondack Thunder for Field Pass Hockey. Follow and interact with her on Twitter @FPHAdkThunder.

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