Sports Hockey

Beavers battle Islanders for spot in the finals

Emily Distefano, The Carman Valley Leader

The Beavers and the Islanders battled for the puck on February 25 at the Carman Arena during the second game of their best-of-seven series. (EMILY DISTEFANO/VALLEY LEADER)

The Beavers and the Islanders battled for the puck on February 25 at the Carman Arena during the second game of their best-of-seven series. (EMILY DISTEFANO/VALLEY LEADER)

The Carman Beavers got off to a winning start in their semi-final series against the Portage Islanders, taking the first two games before dropping the third in Portage on Monday.

The first contest of the best-of-seven series was held in Portage last Thursday. It was a tense competition, with both teams coming out to play. Portage scored first, but Carman’s Ryan McIntosh answered back and the teams ended up tied 3-3 at the end of the third.

Going into overtime, Laurent Benjamin managed to find the net to give the 4-3 win to Carman.

Then on Saturday, the Beavers dominated the play on home ice, taking a decisive lead early on with goals from Aaron Lewadniuk, Mark Owen (two), Nathan Karlowsky and Darren Bestland giving Carman a 5-1 victory.

Karlowsky said after the game that they played the way they wanted to that night.

I think we started off a bit slow but once we got going I think we played well,” he said. “We got pucks deep and finished checks, pucks on net, that’s all you can ask for in a game...just hard hockey, get on the forecheck, get on their defencemen and make them move the puck quick. That’s when they start making mistakes and that’s when we capitalize.”

Owen said it was a great, all-around team effort but their third line really made the difference.

“All three lines were going for sure,” he said. “Our third line had a really, really strong game today. It was good, it was an all-around team effort today...That third line was just such a big difference today. Nakonechny and Rose and Maloney - they just all played really, really strong today, they were probably the deciding factor.”

The Islanders may have gained back some momentum after the third game, though. On Monday they beat the Beavers 7-2 in Portage.

But the Beavers are ready to work for their spot in the finals.

“I don’t want to say it’s familiar territory because I don’t want to get complacent, for sure, but we were there last year and the year before as well so we’ve seen it before and we know what it takes to get there so hopefully we can just keep it up,” Owen said. “We just have to keep the work ethic up and keep bringing it every game and I think we should be able to get through this series.”

The series’ fourth game is set for Thursday March 2 in Carman.

The puck drops at 8:00 pm.

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edistefano@postmedia.com