BRAMPTON - The Excelsiors jumped off to a fast start and used it to carry them to a nervous 15-13 overtime victory Saturday night. That evens the final at 3-3, setting the stage for the deciding contest in Whitby Wednesday night. And both these beat up teams could use the the three days off.
Flat was how the Redmen approached the opening 7 minutes. Result: 4 goals on 5 shots and Brampton looking great. However the letdown from a great Friday night contest did not last. Brooklin came back strong and took the play to the home side over the latter part of the period. Shawn Williams scored a power play goal, then set up Gary Rosyski shorthanded to cut the lead in half. They could have gotten much closer if not for hitting 3 goal posts. Brad Reed dinged two of them. A golden opportunity was also missed at the end of the period as Brooklin's lethal power play was frustrated by great penalty killing from Chris Driscoll and Jim Veltman. The oddest call of the period was Gary Martin giving Chris Langdale two minutes for playing without a helmet. Let's be honest here, this penalty was a long time coming. None of the Excelsiors seem to do up their chin straps, Steve Fannell being the biggest culprit of them all.
Five minutes into the second period, it was the Brampton power play which struck, courtesy of Mike Accursi. Nick Trudeau replied 11 seconds later. The best sniper of them all came back 22 seconds after that. Phillip Sanderson extended his perfect record on breakaways by beating Phil Wetherup. The Redmen drew to 6-4 with another manadvantage goal. Jim Veltman got caught in his own end with ten seconds running down and threw a wild pass which led directly to Gavin Prout's goal. The dueling back and forth continued throughout the second half of the period. Jason Crosbie scored as he dove across the crease. Chris Driscoll buried one from outside. Ken Millen and Steve Toll worked a beautiful "give and go" with Millen finishing. Ryan Sanderson scored with a neat bounce shot. Then came Jim Veltman's Phantom Goal, shorthanded. Nick Trudeau replied on the same power play. And the period concluded at 10-7 as Brampton struck shorthanded again. Veltman with a sensational underhanded outlet pass set up Dan Teat.
As for the Phantom Goal. Wetherup was caught out of goal as Veltman beat him to a lose ball. Luckily for the Redmen netminder, Veltman failed to pick it up cleanly as it bounced into the corner. The Brampton star and a couple of Redmen poured into the corner after it. Veltman came up with it(surprise?) and broke from the corner cleanly. Wetherup still had not made it back to his goal! He slid through the crease hard, purposedly knocking the net off - way off, to the back boards - Veltman proceeded to shoot anyway, where the net should have been, and Frank Lawrence signalled a goal. After a quick conference with Gary Martin, Lawrence confirmed the decision. Okay every one choose your opinions...Brampton fans agreeing with the call and Brooklin fans disagreeing. The Redmen were considering protesting the game on this call. Do they have a case? According to the rules, as I understand them, if the goal is dislodged on purpose as a player is about to shoot, in the act of shooting or has already released the ball, then the referee can award a goal if the ball would have gone in. This was clearly Lawrence's ruling. Was he right? You be the judge: Veltman had the ball and was coming out of the corner clean when Wetherup went crashing into his own goal. No question in my mind that the Brampton player ends up shooting at, at least a half open goal if the net had still been there. I counted two Veltman steps after the goal was dislodged then he shot. Does that count as being about to shoot? Lawrence said yes and it is the referee's judgement call. I don't think there is grounds for protest and will even say that the call was correct.
There was another incident in the period. Jason Crosbie was lying in the Excelsior crease and Jamie Dubrick stepped on his back. Crosbie got up and complained to Gary Martin, who gave him an unsportsmanlike conduct penalty. He then called Dubrick for his stunt. Everyone knows my position on showing the officials due respect - and how Senior players rarely do! - so I have little sympathy for Crosbie. However the stunt by Dubrick was as stupid as it was unsportsmanlike. He's fortunate not to have put his team one man down.
Brooklin came out storming in the third period and on several occasions Brampton was staring at the abyss. Back to back Gary Rosyski goals tied the contest 11-11. The first was an outside bouncer, the second an outside shot which simply went through a handcuffed Bob Watson. With 8:33 remaining it did appear the Excelsior season was winding down. A penalty did not help matters. They responed shorthanded as Mike Accursi won a loose ball then fed Chris Langdale who was left alone in front of the Brooklin goal, for several seconds! Shawn Williams tied it again with just under 6 minutes left. The best chances down the stretch did go to the home side. With 3 minutes remaining Phil Wetherup came up with three big saves in a row. Brampton played the final two minutes on the power play. Steve Fannell drew the penalty as he broke in on goal and Gavin Prout grabbed him. The Exceliors did not score, due mainly to some wild shooting. 12-12 and the first overtime game of the series.
Staring at elimination, the defending champs turned it up a notch during the extra period. Chris Driscoll came close at the 3 minute mark but hit the post. Just over a minute later Mike Accursi scored. With 3:39 left on the clock, they took command thanks to Driscoll picking the corner from outside. Brooklin remained dangerous. Gary Rosyski scored 28 seconds later with an outside shot through Watson's legs. Ryan Sanderson did the exact same thing to Phil Wetherup 29 seconds later. That secured the win and a Game Seven.
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