Boiling point

Matt Molloy
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Emotions heat up between Beothics and Seahawks

The Straight Shore Beothics had just tied its best-of-five Central Newfoundland Hockey League semifinal series with the Lewisporte Seahawks when something happened that's rarely seen in the CNHL.

When the horn sounded to end game two of the series on Sunday at the Beothic Arena in New-Wes-Valley, a game which the Beothics won 8-6, a Seahawks' player flipped the puck into the Beothics' bench from his own blue line.

The Beothics didn't think too kindly of the gesture, specifically minute-eating defenceman Ronnie Tiller, who came face-to-face with Seahawks' player Blair Rice following the incident.

The two dropped the gloves in front of a capacity crowd, and as those two exchanged blows, Beothics' Justin Spurrell and Brandon Burry got involved in skirmishes with two other Lewisporte players.

Intertwined in the on-ice melee was the fact that players from both teams left their respective benches, which left coaches Hubert Spurrell of the Beothics and Larry Kinden of the Seahawks with game misconduct penalties.

Suspensions will be handed down, and for their part, Tiller, Burry and Justin Spurrell won't dress for next weekend's game three in Lewisporte, and both coaches won't be allowed behind the bench for the critical match.

It was not known as of The Beacon's deadline how long the suspensions would be for each player or coach.  

"I can't say, you know," said Beothics' captain Cory Stratton, when asked if he thought the puck was sent over the boards on purpose. "I don't know if he tried it or not, but if he did, it's not very classy."

Whether the play was intentional or not will probably be debated and discussed for a while, but what's known is the Beothics and Seahawks will be minus a few players for game three.

Of the three suspended Beothics' players, Tiller's absence will probably be felt the most. He's the iron man of the Straight Shore squad, and logs a lot of minutes for the team. He has a booming slapshot from the point, and is regularly used as a forward on the power play, where he brings his big frame to the front of the opposing net, much like Zdeno Chara of the Boston Bruins.

"It's going to affect the team, for sure. Ronnie's one of our better defencemen back there, Brandon is a really speedy player for us, and having Justin out is another big loss," said Stratton of the suspended players. "Ronnie hasn't missed a game in two years for us, so he's been really committed to this team. It's sad to know he won't be there next game."

The scene at the end of game two is a rarity in the league. The Seahawks won the opening game 5-2 on Saturday evening, a game that was fast-paced and clean. Game two was a high-scoring affair, and it looked like game three was set before sticks, gloves, and helmets were strewn all over the ice.

“We didn’t want to go back to Lewisporte down 2-0.” Cory Stratton

Amidst the suspensions and fights, game two was a critical one for the Beothics, who didn't want to lose both games at home in front of its fans.

"We didn't want to go back to Lewisporte down 2-0," said Stratton, who scored twice on Sunday. "We wanted to win one in our own barn...we wanted two, but we'll take one."

The Beothics scored four goals in the first period, including three in the opening 2:55 from Stratton, Burry and Justin Spurrell.

However, the Seahawks controlled most of the play in the second period, outshooting the Beothics 15-8.

However, the Beothics bounced back in the third, where a pretty odd-man rush goal by Burry proved to be the winner.

With less than five minutes remaining in the third period, Kris Blackmore chipped a loose puck by a Seahawks' defenceman to start a 2-0 break with Burry. With no Seahawks' defencemen nearby, Blackmore fed a pass to Burry, who one-timed it from the top of the crease and into the back of the net to give the Beothics a 7-6 lead.

Stratton scored an insurance marker a few minutes to give the Beothics the 8-6 win.

"Kris is a really speedy guy, and he was able to push the puck past their defenceman who pinched in," said Stratton. "The boys broke out on the two-on-nothing and it was awfully nice to see the puck go in the net."

Heading back to Lewisporte, only one thing is for sure. The Beothics will be wearing a new set of jerseys, one the players took upon themselves to purchase.

"We still have the Beothic on the front of the jersey," said. "We decided to chip in together to buy a new set of jerseys. When we play Gander, it can get a bit complicated because we have similar coloured jerseys, so it won't be as bad if we meet them again.

"I don't know what to expect," said Stratton, when asked about game three. "It's usually good hockey between the two teams, but we got away from that at the end of this game. Apart from that, it was two games of good, clean hockey."

mmolloy@ganderbeacon.ca

Organizations: Seahawks, Boston Bruins

Geographic location: Lewisporte, New-Wes-Valley

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