Raiders put Caps on brink
A sweep of the first-place Brampton Capitals is close at hand for the hard charging Georgetown Raiders as the second-round best-of-seven OHA Provincial Jr. A Hockey League playoff series could be over tonight (Wednesday) at the Alcott Arena. The Raiders have scored seven times in each of their three victories, including a 7-4 comeback win in Brampton on Monday evening in which Georgetown's veteran snipers eventually exposed the Caps' desperate goaltending situation. Raider netminder Marc Stuart hardly was a bemused spectator of the proceedings as he had to block 52 Brampton shots, recovering from an early 2-0 deficit. "(Brampton) have an explosive team and we took it too easy on them in the first period. That's why some of our guys got to see a lot of the bench," said Georgetown coach James Richmond. "We have played some good disciplined hockey to get into this position, but it's not over until the fourth win is in the books." Casual OPJAHL observers are probably surprised to see a fourth seed such as Georgetown knocking off the frontrunning Capitals in the West Division semifinals, but the outcome of this series seemed to be established in Thursday's opener, when the Raiders used the tiny dimensions of Brampton's Memorial Arena to their advantage, creating turnovers that led to an early 4-0 lead. They went on to a 7-1 triumph and then broke open a close game two at home Saturday in front of about 700 people at Alcott Arena with four goals in the second
period en route to a 7-4 win, highlighted by three goals from captain Wade Finegan. Brampton goalie Ryan Everett had to leave that contest due to injury, leaving both of the Caps' regular-season netminders on the sidelines. Brampton head coach Paul Crane made some adjustments that appeared to spark his club into a 2-0 lead before the game was 10 minutes old on Monday, but the Raiders countered with goals by Matt Thomson, Ryan Ford and Jon Southgate, who would add another in the third period. Tied at three heading into the final frame, Georgetown's Adam DeJong snapped in his team's ninth shorthanded goal of the post-season to take back control. Blueliner Ryan Lee and Rob Sgarbossa completed the scoring, with leading playoff scorer George Lovatsis picking up two assists. The 17-year-old from Unionville has nine goals in as many starts in the postseason for 15 points. Just a month before the playoffs started, the Raiders weren't sure if they'd be getting the second-year forward back because he'd been playing well for the Ontario Hockey League's Barrie Colts, who drafted the 5-foot-11, 175-pounder in the 12th round of the 2005 Priority Selection. With the Colts gunning for an OHL title this spring, they decided to return Lovatsis to Georgetown for more ice time and he has come through with some clutch goals for the Raiders. "I'm surprised he's not with Barrie this year but I'm not disappointed," said a grinning Richmond. "It's disappointing for him because he deserves to be up in the `O,' but George has been great for us, both on the ice and in the dressing room." Lovatsis has fit in nicely on a line with 20-year-olds DeJong and Kyle Schwende on one of three Raider offensive units that have been producing. "You kind of look at it as something that you take in stride and you try to make the best of every opportunity you can, so when I do get called up to Barrie I'll just give it my all," he said. "Playing (for Georgetown) isn't a bad thing. We're really turning it on when it counts and I think we can go all the way." Lovatsis had two goals and two assists in the opener Thursday, with Ford, Jeremy Whelan, Schwende, DeJong and Lee adding to the onslaught. Schwende had two more Saturday night while Whelan and Lovatsis complemented Finegan's hat trick.
Georgetown Raiders' forward Rob Sgarbossa tries to corral a loose puck in front of Brampton Capitals goalie Jonathan Rumley during the Raiders' 7-4 win Monday at Memorial Arena in Brampton. Georgetown leads the Provincial Jr. A Hockey League playoff series 3-0 and can advance to the West Conference final with a win at Alcott Arena tonight (Wednesday).