Orr scores first career playoff goal in 2-0 win
© Dave Mathieson – Amherst Daily News
Members of the Amherst CIBC Wood Gundy Ramblers celebrate after defeating the Yarmouth Mariners 2-0 on Thursday to clinch their best-of-seven Eastlink Division series in six games.
AMHERST – After what happened last year, there was no way Mitch O’Neill wanted to go back to Yarmouth.
The veteran centre scored perhaps the biggest goal of his hockey career here Thursday as the Amherst CIBC Wood Gundy Ramblers defeated the Yarmouth Mariners 2-0 to claim their best-of-seven Eastlink Division series in six games.
“I don’t think I’ve ever scored a bigger one,” O’Neill said after the game. “All I could think of after was it was sweet redemption after what happened last year when we lost Game 7 in Yarmouth. There was no way any of us wanted to go back there.”
With the Ramblers on a power play, after Jon Johannesson was whistled for interference, O’Neill parked himself to the left of Mariners’ goalie Travis Wilkins and took a pass from linemate Brock Morrison and made no mistake depositing the puck in the Yarmouth net to give Amherst a 1-0 lead with just under seven minutes to play.
“It was a play Jimbo and Jamie (Matthews) came up with during the second intermission,” he said. “It’s the first time we tried it and it worked.”
Captain Kody Orr put the game out of reach with his first career playoff goal, scoring into an empty net with 34 seconds to play.
“I didn’t even see it go in,” Orr said. “I was lying on my back when I heard the crowd roar.”
The Ramblers got off to a quick start peppering Wilkins with shots in the early going before the Mariners enjoyed a pair of power plays to break the momentum.
Amherst came close to taking the lead in the second period when Jamie Bishop’s shot from the point went off the post and Robert Davis wasn’t able to put the rebound by Wilkins.
Before the end of the period, Orr stole the puck inside the Amherst blueline and broke in alone on Wilkins. Orr was unable to get the puck over Wilkins and the score remained scoreless.
In the third period, Brett Shute fired a shot from the right side that went off the post, while the Mariners, playing with a short bench after the loss of Derek Larade, Kyle Campbell and Matt Tomah, enjoyed their own scoring chance when Brandon Bussey’s shot through traffic hit Richard Tingley in the mask, while a scramble saw a scoring attempt by Colin Campbell trickled through the crease.
Tingley credited his teammates for playing solid defensively in front of him.
“It was close all game and Wilkins played an amazing game at the other end,” Tingley said. “The boys played their hearts out in front of me. They were great defensively and blocked a lot of shots.”
The veteran goalie, who enjoyed his first season as the starter, admitted to breathing a huge sigh of relief when Orr scored into the empty net to seal the win.
For coach Jim Bottomley, it was one of his proudest moments as a coach.
“I’m proud of these guys and the way they worked out there. We certainly didn’t have the talent the other guys did, but we have a big heart. We battled hard throughout the game and were patient in the end and finally got one on the power play,” Bottomley said.
More photos of the game can be seen on the slide show section at www.cumberlandnewsnow.com