After a decent rest following their sweep of the Truro Bearcats on March 21, the Yarmouth Mariners are heading back into playoff action and their opponent will be the South Shore Lumberjacks for a second consecutive year in the division final.
The two teams will battle it out for the Canadian Tire Cup Eastlink South Division Final starting Saturday, March 30 in Yarmouth.
The entire playoff schedule plays out like this:
Game 1 – Saturday, March 30, 7:30 PM – Mariners Centre
Game 2 – Monday, April 1, 7:00 PM – Lunenburg County Lifestyle Centre
Game 3 – Wednesday, April 3, 7:00 PM – Mariners Centre
Game 4 – Friday, April 5, 7:00 PM – Lunenburg County Lifestyle Centre
Game 5 – Sunday, April 7, 7:00 PM – Mariners Centre*
Game 6 – Tuesday, April 9, 7:00 PM – Lunenburg County Lifestyle Centre*
Game 7 – Thursday, April 11, 7:00 PM – Mariners Centre*
Because Yarmouth finished the regular season in first place in the division with 77 points, where South Shore finished in third with 57 points, Yarmouth has the home-ice advantage in this best-of-seven game division final series.
While it took the Yarmouth Mariners only four games to eliminate the Truro Bearcats in their division semifinal, the other semifinal series between the Amherst Ramblers and the South Shore Lumberjacks went the distance to a full seven games – and then some. The Lumberjacks defeated the Ramblers March 27 in double overtime in the Game 7 elimination. The winning Jacks' goal in the 5-4 final came at the tail end of the second OT. It was a grueling series between those teams, that included two double overtime wins for South Shore in the first two games. The Ramblers eventually went up 3-2 in the series before South Shore tied the series 3-3 forcing a Game 7.
Just like playing Truro in the first round of these playoffs was déjà vu for Yarmouth fans when looking back at last year’s playoffs, so too is playing South Shore in the division final. Last year the Mariners won the division final over South Shore in five games.
In the regular season, Yarmouth had a 4-3 loss record against both the Amherst Ramblers and the South Shore Lumberjacks. (Only three out of 12 teams in the league had a winning record against the Mariners during the regular season, Edmundston being the other with a 2-1 record.)
However, the scores were tighter between the Mariners and the Lumberjacks than they were between Yarmouth and Amherst. Also, one Mariners-Lumberjacks game went to overtime and the other ended in a shootout.
Another advantage to playing South Shore is the shorter distance to travel for games.
The following is the Yarmouth-South Shore matchup from the regular season:
Yarmouth 5 – South Shore 1: Sept 27
South Shore 5 – Yarmouth 4: Oct. 13
South Shore 5 – Yarmouth 4 (OT): Jan. 5
Yarmouth 4 – South Shore 3: Feb 7
South Shore 6 – Yarmouth 4: Feb. 8
Yarmouth 4 – South Shore 3: Feb. 15
South Shore 7 – Yarmouth 6 (SO): March 3
THE OTHER DIVISION FINAL:
The Eastlink North Division final between Summerside and Campbellton also gets underway on March 30. Summerside advanced to the final after sweeping St. Stephen in four games. Campbellton defeated Edmundston 4-1 in their semifinal series.
During the regular season Summerside had a 6-1 record over Campbellton, with two of those wins coming in overtime and one in a shootout. Summerside finished the Eastlink North division in first place with 82 points, which was also first place overall in the league. Campbellton had finished the division in second place with 68 points.
As for the Amherst Ramblers, their season isn’t over yet. The team is hosting the Fred Page Cup May 1-5.