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StreetTalk with Mike Hayakawa

What began as a best-of-seven second round South Conference Provincial Junior A Hockey League playoff series between the Markham Waxers and Wexford Raiders is now a best-of-five affair.

"We're confident that we're the better club"
Russ Herrington

The two teams opened what has the potential to go the entire seven games at Centennial Arena on Friday with the Waxers skating off with a 6-3 win. But when the series resumed Sunday at the Scarborough Arena Gardens, the Raiders extracted a measure of revenge by emerging with a 5-2 win to end the Waxers' postseason undefeated string at five games.

If the Waxers hope to continue its playoff run for another round, head coach Russ Herrington acknowledges his club must find a way to steal one game on the road. And tonight the Waxers will have the opportunity as the third game will be played on the Raiders' home ice surface Tuesday night at 7:30 p.m.

Herrington concedes that winning a game on the Raiders' ice surface is not an easy task. "We knew that this wouldn't be an easy series," he said after Sunday's setback. "There's not one team in the entire league where home ice advantage is more evident than here (at the Scarborough Ice Gardens)."

One reason for the difficulty, he noted, is the arena's smaller ice surface. But he also speculated the arena holds a mystique that enables the Raiders to come with big plays when they have to on their own ice. "Maybe the years of having to play in the same arena they get every bounce. They just seem to play well at home and compete harder here than on the road," he speculated.

The Raiders got a fortuitous break to open the scoring Sunday when Markham resident Ryan Panet took a shot from just inside the blueline that seemed to handcuff goalie Rick Marnon.

After the Raiders notched a power-play goal to take a 2-0 lead, the Waxers rallied to even the count before the period concluded on goals by Paul Robinson and Jesse Boucher, on a power play.

With Marnon redeeming himself after making some big saves to start the second period with his team playing at a two-man disadvantage, the Waxers seemed to control the play for the remainder of the stanza and generated several odd-man advantages only to squander away their scoring opportunities. That would come back to haunt the Waxers in the third period as the Raiders delivered three unanswered goals in the final 20 minutes, including one from former Brother Andre Catholic High School forward Tony Rossi, to win the game.

"I thought we held the majority of play on both nights. But tonight we didn't finish as well as we would have liked," Herrington conceded. "And I didn't think we shot the puck enough when we had the odd-man advantages. Tonight they did the extra things to win and we didn't."


This article was written by Mike Hayakawa and published in the Markham Economist and Sun. Minor edits may have been performed to the original article.

This has been reproduced with permission.

In Friday's opening game, the Raiders held a 2-0 advantage through 20 minutes before the Waxers stormed back with five unanswered second-period goals to take a 5-2 lead. Andy Schofield scored a shorthanded marker while power-play goals were added by Boucher, Steve Nobili and Robinson. Adam Doucette scored an even-strength goal with just two seconds remaining in the period.

After the Raiders scored a power-play goal to cut its deficit to 5-3 in the final frame, Steve Kelly restored the three-goal margin with a goal in the final 30 seconds.

In looking ahead to Tuesday night's game, Herrington feels his club doesn't have to do much different apart from making one or two roster changes. "I think we've done a pretty good job of creating offence and forcing turnovers with our speed. The only thing that bothered me tonight was the third period when we didn't give it that little extra when we had to. It was a good lesson for us.

"But we have to win at least one game here. We might as well make it on Tuesday and go back on Friday and try to keep our home ice advantage. We're confident that we're the better club."

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