GRAND FALLS-WINDSOR, NL – It was a weekend of victories for the Cataracts, coming out on top over the Northeast Eagles Saturday night and the St. John’s Caps on Sunday.
“It was a hard-fought battle out there,” said Cats goaltender AJ Whiffen after Sunday’s game, which they won 4-2.
“It wasn’t our team’s best effort, but we came out to win and that’s what good teams do, they find ways to win, and that’s what we did today. It’s a step forward in the right direction and we’ll take it.”
The Caps and Eagles travelled west to Grand Falls-Windsor and Gander for a series of interlocking games over the weekend between the ECSHL and CWSHL leagues. The Gander Flyers beat out the Caps to win 4-2 on Saturday night, while the Cataracts swept the Eagles 6-1.
The Cats took an early lead in the game, with Steve Yetman lighting up the board, followed by Mike Brent, Michael Cole, two goals by Klay Kachar, and the final point scored by Danny Wicks.
On Sunday, the Caps opened scoring, but Brent quickly tied things up in the first period.
A problem with the lighting system caused some delays, but the situation was remedied, and the second period got underway. The score stayed 1-1 until the end of the period, but then things heated up with the Caps’ Jacob Pitcher scoring a shorthanded goal at 2:48 in the third, shortly followed by a point by Steve Yetman at 4:24.
The game remained tied until Andrew Brennan scored with just 43 seconds left, and then again on an empty net with 0.2 seconds until the buzzer.
“It was a great game. They played well, we played well. Their goalie, Downer, played excellent in nets, made a lot of good saves,” Cats coach Patrick Yetman told the Advertiser after the game. “Overall, we played a lot of attack, but they had some good chances too, and it was back and forth over most of the game.”
Caps forward Terry Ryan said although they didn’t take home the win, the game was valuable in other ways.
“I think it went great. We had three games against the west, and I thought our team had good systems, good structure and a positive outlook,” he said. “This league is obviously better. I hate to say I like losing, because I don’t, but I thought it was a bit of a moral victory for our league and our team.”
He also noted that his father, Terry Ryan Sr., grew up just down the road from the Joe, and the arena still holds a special place in his heart.
“I grew up around the mystique of the Cataracts, so it’s still an honour to play here and I’m not just sugarcoating that – it really is,” he said. “I think for a lot of those guys, it was an honour to play at the Joe Byrne, with probably the most hockey heritage in the province.”
Ryan also wished the Cats luck in the coming playoffs, adding the three teams the Caps played over the weekend seemed equally matched. While he admitted the guys were a bit sour after the loss, he predicted it would wear off by the time they got on the bus back to the capital.
“Good luck to the Cataracts the rest of the year,” he said. “For the fans, we got treated great in Gander and Grand Falls – really treated like gold – and I guess I’m speaking on behalf of the guys, but we really appreciate that.”
There are six games left in the CWSHL for the Cats and the Clarenville Caribous, and just four remaining for the Flyers, with the regular season wrapping up Feb. 10. Playoff action will begin the following week.
The Cats next face the Flyers in Gander Jan. 20, but are back to challenge them on home ice Jan. 21.