Schmalz Cup junior C hockey final begins Friday in Port Hope
The Port Hope Panthers celebrate a goal in Game 5 of their Provincial Junior Hockey League semifinal series win over the Alliston Hornets this past Friday at the Jack Burger Sports Complex in Port Hope. PETE FISHER/Northumberland Today
There will be a rematch for the Schmalz Cup junior C hockey championship between the Port Hope Panthers and Ayr Centennials.
The defending champion Centennials defeated the visiting Essex 73’s 2-1 Monday night in Game 7 of a Provincial Junior Hockey League semifinal series at the North Dumfries Community Complex.
Ayr, which trailed 1-0 after the first period, tied the game 23 seconds into the third period before tallying the go-ahead game-winning goal with just 1:41 to play in regulation time. They out-shot Essex 51-23 in the deciding contest in front of 1,100 spectators.
The Panthers, earning their third straight trip to the championship final, won their semifinal over the Allison Hornets in five games, clinching the series victory last Friday. They are ready for another shot at the provincial title against Ayr.
“We know they’re a lot like what they had last year – they’re big and they’re physical,” said Panthers head coach Mat Goody. “They’re four-lines deep. We’re going to have to really make sure our game is finely tuned and ready to go.”
The Panthers won the coin flip to get home-ice advantage in the Schmalz Cup final. The series opener is Friday night at the Jack Burger Sports Complex in Port Hope, starting at 7:30 p.m.
Game 2 is Sunday in Ayr at 2 p.m. before the series returns to Port Hope for Game 3 Wednesday, April. 26 at 7:30 p.m. Ayr will host Game 4 on Friday, April 28 at 7:30 p.m.
As necessary, Game 5 is scheduled for Sunday, April 30 in Port Hope at 2 p.m; Game 6 Wednesday, May 3 in Ayr at 7:30 p.m. and Game 7 Friday, May 5 in Port Hope at 7:30 p.m.
Port Hope fell behind 3-0 in the Schmalz Cup final in both the previous two seasons.
In 2015, Essex defeated Port Hope in seven games. The Panthers rallied from the 3-0 deficit to force the seventh-and-deciding contest.
Last year, the Centennials swept the Panthers in four straight games.
“Game 1 is a big one. Anytime you get into a series you want to get out in front and put a little pressure on the other team,” Goody said. “Friday’s game is going to be very important and we need to make sure we’re prepared for that.”