The Cats defeated the Deer Lake Red Wings in Games 1 and 2 of the West Coast Senior Hockey League finals this past weekend at the Joe Byrne Memorial Stadium with 4-2 and 9-3 wins.
"I think in (Saturday's) game we started slow, but in the second half of the game we really played well and carried that intensity into (Sunday)," said Cataracts Head Coach Brian Casey. "I was really happy with how we played in the first period (on Sunday). We really set the tone for the game. When you start at home you want to try and take advantage of that, so a credit to the boys they really played hard."
The Cataracts drew first blood Saturday night with Matt Quinn, Andre Gill, Mike Sibley and Mike Brent finding the back of the net for the Cats.
T.J. Smith and Stephen Simms countered for the Red Wings.
On Sunday afternoon, Tyler Whitehead had a hat trick and Chad Earle had a pair of goals in the contest. Cody Roach, Brandon Nicholas, Mike Sibley and Andrew Brennan adding singles.
Darren Langdon, Stephen Simms and Aaron MacInnis scored for the Red Wings.
Two of Whitehead's three goals got the Cataracts offence rolling in Sunday's rout, but according to him, it was their effort more than their talent that has them up 2-0 in the best-of-seven series.
"We weren't doing anything difficult or fancy, just getting the puck and going to the net," he said. "I'm sure if you took a look at all of the goals none of them are fancy. It's a hard-work scoring system."
The Cataracts have made no effort to hide the fact that speed is their best weapon, and that is what Red Wings Head Coach Ed Kearsey said his team will need to focus on in Game 3 to turn the series around.
"We've got to get on their defense quick. They're coming out and in their own zone pretty easy and were going to have to slow them down," he said. "Most teams, once they come out of the neutral zone, are very fast and (they) have used that to their advantage."
Once the Cats opened up a 5-0 lead after the first period on Sunday, the physical play picked up with 116 penalty minutes handed out. The Red Wings collected 79 of those. Five game misconducts were also doled out.
The Red Wings appeared to have their sights set on Cataracts rookie and leading scorer, Chad Earle, on the weekend. For Earle, it is all part of being in the finals.
"It's part of the game. If they want to try and get in my head, I'm not going to let them," he said. "They can try to hurt me, but that's part of the game and I can't do anything about that."
"We're well aware that this is the league finals and you have to fight for every inch of ice out there and sometimes emotions are going to run high. That is the nature of the sport," Casey said of Sunday's physical contest. "Our biggest thing we tell the players is to keep (their) head. Don't let it get out of control. We need everybody and can't afford to have guys out of the line-up for unnecessary things."
The series now switches to Deer Lake for Games 3 and 4, where the Red Wings will try and make the league finals a series.
"We started off playing well in the first game, but it's disappointing after the outcome of the second game," said Kearsey. "We're going to have to go back to Deer Lake and re-group and bring a better effort all around."
Should the Cats defeat the Red Wings, the Herder Memorial Championship will begin in St. John's on March 26 and 27 for Games 1 and 2 before a three game stand at the Joe Byrne Memorial Stadium starting April 1. Should Games 6 or 7 be necessary, the series would shift back to St. John's.