Three hours after the fact, Georgetown Raider defenceman Ryan Hirtle-St. Denis was still in disbelief over his expulsion from Saturday's playoff game against the Streetsville Derbys, and his teammates were just as baffled about the evening's bizarre sequence of events.
Somehow, the stubborn Derbys avoided elimination with a 3-2 double-over-time victory over the favoured Raiders and trailed 3-2 in their increasingly intense series, with Streetsville goalie Tyler Gordon-- and some controversial officials' decisions-- at the centre of attention.
The Raiders were hoping to close out their best-of-seven OHA Provincial Jr. A Hockey League West Conference quarter-final with a win in Streetsville last night (Tuesday). If not, game seven will be played at the Mold-Masters SportsPlex tonight at 8 p.m. Things started off well enough for the Raiders in Saturday's contest, with David Jarman scoring just 25 seconds into the game. But shortly after the Derbys tied the score, the proceedings took a strange twist, with Hirtle-St. Denis headed for the dressing room and Streetsville going into a 2-1 advantage.
At the 11-minute mark of the opening frame, Derby defender Clayton Windigo was cut down by an errant Georgetown high stick while the 20-year-old Hirtle-St. Denis was at the other end of the ice, skating off on a line change. Problem was, Raider forward Jeremy Whelan was the real culprit, and despite his protests to referee Dave Koziel, it was Hirtle-St. Denis who was assessed a five-minute major and game misconduct. With just five defencemen starting the match, Georgetown was outshot 42-35 and relied on netminder Ryan Gibb to turn in another first-star effort. "I guess the linesman
thought it was me and told the ref that I did it," said Hirtle-St. Denis, one of just six returning Raiders from last season's Dudley Hewitt Cup championship squad. "Actually, I was on the bench when I found out about it. We can't worry about that now. You shouldn't lose a game like that at home in the playoffs." Georgetown's Jon Southgate evened the score on a deflected point shot mid way through the second period, setting the stage for an entertaining third period in front of more than 600 spectators. The Raiders thought they had won the series late in the third after a wrap around attempt by Erik Lundmark was finished off by forward Paul Marchese, but Koziel disallowed the goal, saying Marchese had a skate in the crease.
In OT, there was another flashpoint involving the officials, one of many on the night that drew howls of protest from supporters of both clubs. A Travis Kauffeldt goal was waved off after Gordon intentionally pushed the net off its supports with 35 seconds left in the first extra period. Kauffeldt was awarded a penalty shot for the second time in as many games, but this time missed. Then, Scott Lees potted the winner for the Derbys three minutes into the second OT
after a Georgetown defensive miscue left two wide-open forwards in front of Gibb, who felt he was tripped on the play. In game four Friday, the Raiders again scored first on a two-man advantage before the opening period was half over and killed off all nine Streetsville power plays to grab a 3-1 win. Mike Gurtler, Kauffeldt (penalty shot) and Paul Marchese (empty net) tallied for the Raiders. If Georgetown eliminates Streetsville, the Raiders will face Hamilton starting tomorrow (Thursday) in Hamilton.