Alex Dalley was the hero Grand Falls-Windsor hockey fans were counting on.
After the Cataracts rallied to tie Game 5 with just 46 seconds left in the third, Dalley scored the overtime goal for a 3-2 win, securing the Herder Memorial Trophy championship over the Southern Shore Breakers Sunday, April 14 at Joe Byrne Arena.
It is Grand Falls-Windsor’s 15th Herder win and fourth in the past six years.
For player Andre Gill, it was a bittersweet moment.
After 10 years, during which he won five Herder titles with the Cataracts, he’s ready to hang up the skates.
“I’m getting too old and broke up,” he said about continuing. “So this win is a bit emotional for me.”
Everyone wants to go out on top, he added.
And he got to do it in Grand Falls-Windsor, in front of the team’s fans.
“We played a young, fast team. They were no easy opponent, so it was great to be able to do this in front of hometown fans who’ve always gave us their support,” he said.
The Breakers were the first to make it to the scoreboard in the first period, with Kris Hodge netting the team’s only goal of the period at 4:33. Patrick Yetman responded for the Cataracts five minutes later to bring the game back to even.
The Cataracts entered the second period with a man advantage, as Jeremy Nicholas was still serving time for slashing. The team wasn’t able capitalize on the opportunity, however.
There were a number of power-play opportunities in the second, but neither team was able to break the stalemate.
As the period’s buzzer sounded, Nicklas Lindstrom of the Cataracts was sent off for cross-checking, adding to an existing penalty, giving the Breakers a five-on-three advantage to start the third.
Southern Shore couldn’t capitalize on the man advantage, but Jeremy Nicholas was able knock in the Breakers’ second goal to put Southern Shore back in the lead.
With 2:41 left on the clock, Cataracts fans erupted when it appeared the game was tied again. The moment was short lived, however, as a high-sticking call saw the goal waved off.
Entering the final minute of play, hope was fading fast for the Cataracts. Then, captain Mike Brent stepped up to prove why he wears the “C”, dramatically forcing the game to overtime.
The Cataracts started the extra frame on a power play after Kyle Tibbo picked up a tripping penalty in the dying seconds of the third period.
The Breakers killed off the penalty but couldn’t delay the inevitable as Dalley banked the winner to clinch the win.
Dave Canning, who has been following the Cataracts for years and even served as the general manager at one point, was among the fans sweating it out during the game.
“It was hard on the nerves,” he said. “I didn’t like our chances going back to the Southern Shore.”
He was elated to see the Cataracts notch another Herder.
“It’s a big accomplishment,” Canning said.