Justin Belanger and the Metros will face elimination on Sunday afternoon at the Sportsplex.
Through the first 2 games of the Maritime Junior Hockey League’s Bent Division semi final series between the Metro Marauders and the Yarmouth Mariners, Yarmouth’s second line of Jared Hicks, Ryan Nickerson, and Andrew Wigg had been noticeably quiet, with only Hicks registering a single point. That all changed on Thursday night at Mariners Centre as the trio erupted for a combined 12 points as the Mariners drubbed the Marauders by a score of 8-3. Hicks led the onslaught with 4 goals and an assist, Wigg chipped in with 2 goals and 2 assists, while Nickerson added 3 assists. For Metro, regular season scoring leader Andrew Wigginton had his best outing of the playoffs, finishing with a goal and 2 assists, while playoff scoring leaders Dylan King and Justin Belanger continued their hot ways each having 2 point nights.
Chris Clarke got the call in goal for the second time in these playoffs to start Game 3 in place of regular starter Travis Hall who wasn’t at his best in Game 2. It would not matter though as the home side attacked instantly and opened the scoring just 42 seconds in when Wigg notched his first of the playoffs, deflecting a Derek Larade point shot past Clarke. The Mariners would strike again at 2:32 as Hicks would score his first of the postseason on the power play to make it 2-0. The Marauders would get one back however as on a power play of their own, Wigginton would walk in from the top of the right faceoff circle and wire a wrist shot past Yarmouth starter Charles Grant for his first of the playoffs to get the visitors back in it. Things would stay that way until 15:55 when Wigg would grab his second of the period, from Nickerson and Hicks to restore the 2 goal lead for Yarmouth. Hicks would add another just 10 seconds before the end of the period to give the Mariners a 4-1 advantage heading to the dressing room. Shots on goal in the period favored Yarmouth by a 16-7 margin.
The Mariners would keep coming in the second period as Hicks would pick up his hat trick goal at 5:04 on the power play, 5-1 Yarmouth. The Marauders would not roll over though, as Belanger scored his third of the playoffs at 7:08 to draw them within striking distance. Belanger would do it again on a Metro power play at the 16:10 mark, pulling the Marauders to within 5-3. Wigginton would assist both Belanger goals. That would be as close as the Marauders would get on this night.
In the third, Hicks would grab goal number four on the evening at the 2:07 mark with Chris Riguse in the box for high sticking to make it a 6-3 hockey game. Yarmouth goal scoring leader Mathieu Pompei got in on the action on another Mariners man advantage at 10:13, grabbing the rebound of an Andrew Walker point shot, making a quick move to the forehand, and going high glove side on Clarke for his fourth of the playoffs to make it 7-3. Yarmouth forward Morgan Mullen would add his second of the postseason with 38 seconds left in the game to round out the scoring and send Metro back to the drawing board, looking for answers as to how to slow the Mariners down.
Notes: Announced attendance at Mariners Centre was 1455. Grant made 21 stops in the win, Clarke had 32 saves to take the loss. The Marauders went 2 for 5 with the man advantage to bring their series total to 6 for 16, Yarmouth went 4 for 11 on the night to bring their series total to 7 for 17. King and Belanger continue to lead the league’s playoff scoring race with 9 points each. Pompei, Wigginton, and Rob McEwan are next with 7. Pompei has played 3 fewer games. With the win, Yarmouth has now won 13 straight games dating back to the regular season. The Marauders will look to keep their season alive in Game 4 of the series on Sunday. Game time is 4:00pm at Dartmouth Sportsplex.