It took double overtime before anyone knew that it would be the Antigonish Jr. Bulldogs and the Kensington P.E.I. Vipers in the Don Johnson Memorial Cup Championship Game Sunday afternoon April 30th at 1:00 p.m. at Queens Place Emera Centre in Liverpool.
PEI 2 Liverpool 1 (Double OT)
Duncan Picketts rebound goal on the Vipers first shot with 1:30 elapsed in the second overtime gave the Vipers a berth in Sunday’s Atlantic Championship Final. Aidan Durnford, chosen the Privateers player of the game played superb allowing only 2 goals on the 48 shots he faced. Noah Visser in the PEI nets was more than sharp as well blocking 31 of 32 shots while earning his team’s player of the game honours. The game was one for the ages as the skating was hard and fast and as expected in junior hockey many needless penalties. However the scoring chances were incredible. The Privateers started the first ten minute overtime with a power-play of 1:46 as the Vipers had taken a tripping penalty. Liverpool opened the first overtime with Jude Greenwood taking a backhanded shot right at Visser only to be denied. To make matters even more frustrating, Daniel Leblanc hit the crossbar on an attempt and the Privateers also managed to ring one off a goal post. All of this in the first overtime. In the second period, Joe Osborne and Malcom Bussey missed on a 2 on 1 short-handed opportunity. Daniel Kline also missed an opportunity in the second when he streaked down the right side only to crash into Visser and miss an opportunity. Durnford mid-way through the first period began to show fans the demonstration he would put on the entire evening as in a short span, he made four incredible saves as the Vipers were buzzing all over the Privateers net. Early in the second, the Vipers came out with engines on fire and outshot the Privateers 5-0 before the period was three minutes old but Durnford was the show again. The Vipers kept attacking after Joe Osborne went to the penalty box and were outshooting the Privateers 9-0 before the second was five minutes old. Nick Reeves finally put the Vipers up 1-0 on a shot from the point with 4:12 having elapsed in the second period. Exactly one minute later Carson Gallant with the Privateers buzzing all around the Viper net scored to tie the game at 1-1. It was a fantastic tournament for the Privateers and their entire organizing committee deserves a standing ovation for their organization skills in making the 2023 Don Johnson Memorial Cup Atlantic Junior Hockey Championship such a rousing success.
Antigonish 6 New Brunswick 2
The Jr. Bulldogs recored their win but two of their goals were into an empty net after the Kent Koyotes pulled their goaltender trailing 4-2 with 2:28 to play but that theory did not work as the Bulldogs scored a pair of goals by Nick Marshall and Owen Fleming.
Sam Grant with break-neck speed out skated two New Brunswick defenders and went in on a breakaway and snapped a quick shot to put Antigonish up 1-0. The Bulldogs then went up 2-0 on a fantastic pass from Ethan Twolan from behind the net to Sam Grant. Joshua Breault let a wicked shot go with 2:23 left in the first from 10 feet out and the Koyotes went to the dressing room trailing only 2-1. Sam Grant then made it 3-1 Bulldogs with another goal and Will Mierau with a back-handed shot over to Bradley Armstrong with 5:46 remaining in the second made it 4-1 Bulldogs. Phiilipe Drysdale tallied early in the third to allow the Koyotes to pull within two goals before the two empty net goals by Antigonish. The Koyotes did everything humanely possible with 3:00 minutes to play in the third as they were all over the Bulldogs net only to be denied.