TWEED – West Carleton Rivermen owner Adrian Moyes had a huge weekend in Tweed scoring the Eastern Ontario Super A Hockey League (EOSHL) playoff’s prettiest goal and followed that up with the overtime winning goal sending the Rivermen to the West Division finals.
After winning its only home game of the first round of the EOSHL playoffs March 5, the Rivermen headed to Tweed for back-to-back games March 12 and 13 at the Municipality of Tweed Community Centre to face the Oil Kings, considered the favourite going in to the series.
The best of three series doesn’t leave room for mistakes and the Rivermen would be heading in to a barn that has hosted up to 600 fans in the regular season – six times as many as the largest crowd to attend a Rivermen home game. Seven hundred fans would show up for the Oil Kings’ first home playoff game of the season Saturday afternoon.
Tweed would end up earning the win 7-4 on the back of a three-goal second and third period.
Galetta’s Moyes would score two goals for the Rivermen – one the highlight of the EOSHL playoffs so far. Moyes, would score what is known as the Michigan Goal, scooping the puck up from behind the net and depositing it in the net above the goalie’s shoulder like a lacrosse move. Moyes would add an assist on a goal by Liam Poirier for a three-point night. Alex Hulford was the other Rivermen goal scorer.
The Tweed win meant game three would be played the very next day in a winner take all match.
Game three looked grim after one period as the Oil Kings got off to a 2-0 lead after one period. The Rivermen stormed back with a three-goal second period thanks to Stittsville’s Alex Hulford who had the Rivermen’s first two goals and Kanata’s Ryley Hennigar, a former Peterborough Pete.
Tweed would tie it up and then grab the lead with a shorthanded goal with just more than seven minutes left to play.
Hennigar would get his second of the game with 3:07 left to send the teams to overtime. Thirty-four seconds in to the extra frame, Moyes would win it on a pass from Blake Forslund.
Coach Mike Byrne says the series showed just how good senior hockey is in eastern Ontario.
“The first round was a great showcase for what the league has to offer,” Byrne told West Carleton Online today (March 15). “Lots of skilled plays, great goaltending and some highlight reel goals.”
Moyes has scored highlight goals and game winners and now has five points (3 goals, 2 assists) in three playoff games tying him for second in the league in playoff points.
“I could not be happier for Adrian, who scored the winner,” Byrne said. “His hard work has paid off, and it couldn’t have happened to a better guy. At the same time, I also want to want to highlight Blake Forslund. Blake played defence for us Saturday when we were short, and then moved back to forward and had three assists, including on the game winner. Blake took his game to another level and without him, I’m not sure we’re talking about the Rivermen in the second round.”
Forslund, a 30-year-old from Owen Sound, also has five points (1 G, 4 A) in three games.
Byrne said playing in Tweed was an eye-opener for the Rivermen, and the large number of fans just added to the fun atmosphere.
“The atmosphere in Tweed was incredible,” Byrne said. “Full credit to their management for the product they’ve put on the ice, which clearly attracted hundreds of fans. Players on our team were saying that it was the most fun they’ve had playing in a playoff game, which says a lot given the levels they’ve played at.”
Rivermen defenceman Zack Rheaume said the opening round of the EOSHL playoffs has been a learning experience for the Rivermen.
“We learned that we need to keep it simple and do our jobs,” Rheaume told West Carleton Online. “Nothing more and nothing less. Hard work and patience will win us this game.”
Rheaume, a 27-year-old Gloucester Centre native, was the EOSHL defenceman of the year in the league’s inaugural season and has had another strong season two years later. In 15 regular season games, Rheaume had 19 points (3 G, 16 A). He has four assists in the EOSHL playoffs so far which ties him for first in helpers in the playoffs with teammate Forslund.
He says it wasn’t just the team’s offensive punch that pushed in through to the next round.
“We played amazing defence as a whole,” Rheaume said. “We were patient and capitalized on our chances. Great coaching also doesn’t hurt.”
Now the Rivermen have to get ready to host the Gananoque Islanders for another best-of-three series to determine the EOSHL West Division champions. Like the first series, game one will be played in Ganonque before the Rivermen host the final two games.
Gananoque was the fourth and final seed in the playoffs but is also the hottest team in the EOSHL. The Islanders won six of their last seven regular season games just to make the EOSHL playoffs. They then destroyed the EOSHL regular season champion Smith Falls Rideaus two games straight, outscoring the Rideaus 13-2 in the two games.
“Gananoque has an incredibly skilled team, and has great goaltending,” Byrne said. “I could be wrong, but I believe the shutout their goaltender had in game one was the first shutout in league history. We are going to have to stay disciplined and ensure we stay away from taking unnecessary chances. Gananoque’s general manager Tom Dickson has put a great team together, and I’m excited to see the skill on display for both teams this weekend.”
Islanders goalie Nicholas Nabuurs has a .969 save percentage in the playoffs making 64 of 66 saves in the series. The 24-year-old Aurora, ON native played five years in Lithuania including three seasons on the U17 national team.
The Rivermen went 2-1 in regular season action against the Islanders. On the ice, Rheaume says patience and pace will win the series.
“We need to have a high energy start to set the tempo for the series,” he said. “After that we let our skill and hard work take over.”
The Rivermen will open the series in Gananoque on Friday, March 18 at 7:30 p.m. at the Lou Jeffries, Gananoque and TLTI Recreation Centre.
Less than 24 hours later (March 19) the Rivermen will return home to the Nick Smith Centre for Game 2 at 6:15 p.m. If necessary, game three will be played Saturday, March 26, also in Arnprior, with a puck drop at 7:45 p.m. Tickets are $10 for adults, $8 for seniors, $5 for youth 13 to 17. Kids under 18 and accompanied by a paying adult get in free.
If more than 300 paid fans attend the game, the Rivermen will be give away $200 to a lucky fan. Of course, chuck-a-puck will be happening, and the team will also be accepting canned food donations for the Arnprior and District Food Bank.