GRAND FALLS-WINDSOR, NL – The Grand Falls-Windsor Blades got goals from seven different players in a 7-3 win over the Northeast Sabres Saturday night at the Joe Byrne Memorial Stadium in Central Newfoundland Hockey League action.
Daniel Curnew scored the winner 6:42 into the second period. His goal was one of six potted in a high-scoring middle frame.
“Anytime you score seven goals and only give up three you feel pretty good,” said Blades’ forward Neil Oake. “Carter (Fancey) made some big saves for us when we needed it. That was key.”
Oake capitalized on a breakaway opportunity in the second period while his team was on the power play to score his goal.
Seconds after Oake scored his breakaway goal, Matt Lavallee scored a breakaway goal of his own. Oake said both scoring chances were a result of team speed and accurate passing.
“When we’re cutting through the middle with speed, you don’t want to be standing flatfooted, because all of our forwards have wheels,” he said. “It was a good breakout with good passing, and once we’re wheeling and catch you standing still, that’s it.”
The Sabres battled back from a 3-1 deficit in the second period thanks to goals from PJ Budgell and Kaleb Roberts.
Although missing some of their best offensive players like Travis Champion, Jasper Dicks and Brett Robinson, the Sabres fought hard from start to finish. Acting head coach Lyndon Small was pleased with his team’s effort, especially their play in the first period.
“We had a lot of puck possession in the first and spent a lot of time in in the offensive zone,” said Small after the game. “We were down 3-1 in the second period, but we showed a lot of character, stuck with our game plan and it paid off with those two goals.”
With their top offensive weapons absent, many players from the New-Wes-Valley area were penciled into the lineup. Some of those players were members of the Straight Shore Beothics team that won the league title in 2012, and Small said they bring experience and leadership to the table.
“When you can get those quality players from the Straight Shore area, guys that have experience in this league, and guys that have a knack for putting the puck in the net, it’s going to help your team,” said Small, adding the hope is the players from the Straight Shore area play enough games to qualify for the playoffs.
And much like those Straight Shore players, the Blades have no shortage of offensive weapons.
The line of Oake, Jason Saunders and Jake Sparkes were dangerous the entire game and created numerous scoring chances. They ended with four points, but Oake believes the best is yet to come from this newly-formed line.
“It’s funny, because we’re pretty much a brand-new line,” said Oake, adding the three were put together during a weekend set in Lewisporte, Jan. 13-14.
“Me and Saunders like to have the puck, and Jake is the guy that goes and gets it for us. He’s the dog on our line, for sure, and he fits there perfectly.”
Saunders, Brad Manuel, Dave Burke and Matt Antle also scored for the Blades, while Blake Stratton scored the other goal for the Sabres.
The Sabres scored two power-play goals on Sunday, and Jordan Humphries broke a 4-4 tie with less than two minutes remaining on the clock in the third, and the visiting squad came away with a 5-4 win and a split of the weekend set.
Greg Edgar, Stratton and Ryan Parsons scored first-period goals for the Sabres, and Parsons scored again in the second. Humphries’ goal late in the third held on as the game-winner.
The Blades got goals from Justin Holloway, PJ Loder, Oake and Saunders.
The Blades visit the Twillingate Combines this weekend, while the Sabres are off. Both teams finish the regular season over the Feb. 10-11 weekend, when the Blades host the Springdale Braves and the Sabres visit the Lewisporte Seahawks.