Fort Erie Meteors win conference final for first time since ’79

Not many things can be more nerve-wracking then watching a Game 7–except playing in one.

The Fort Erie Meteors had hoped to secure the Greater Ontario Junior Hockey League (GOJHL) conference title on Saturday night, but the Caledonia Corvairs tied the series with a final score of 1-0, bringing the series to 3-3 and forcing a final match on their home rink.

The Meteors and fans alike travelled to Haldimand County Caledonia Centre on Monday, April 15 for the game.

Just over five minutes in, the Meteors earned the first power play of the game thanks to a tripping penalty earned by Caledonia’s Ethan Girard.

The power play did not go as planned and the Corvairs buried the puck nine seconds after it had started. Clark Dunford scored with assists awarded to Gavin McAfee-Rankine and Zachary Naherne.

Fort Erie didn’t capitalize on the power play but they did even up the score before the period was through. Kyle Adamo scored his tenth post-season goal with help from Blake Hall and Liam Beamish.

After 20 minutes of play, the Meteors put 11 shots on net compared to 15 for the Corvairs.

Both teams played a disciplined game in the second period, as no penalties were called against either side.

Caledonia’s Tyler Clark gave his team the lead with a goal scored at 14:21. Connor Doerbecker and Ryan O’Keefe notched assists on the 2-1 goal.

Things were beginning to look a bit bleak for Fort Erie in the third period; Doerbecker scored his first post-season goal to stretch the lead to two. Nathan Duplessis and Evan Bradacs notched assists.

Caledonia was up 3-1, but things began to shift shortly thereafter.

Blake Hall put up the first goal the Meteors had scored since the first period, then Liam Beamish picked up his second apple of the night.

With a hair over 11 minutes left in the game, Jaden Flora stretched the twine with help from Georgy Toroptsev and Andrew MacNiel.

Not completely satisfied, Flora scored his second goal of the night in an unassisted effort. The 4-3 goal was Flora’s seventh goal in the postseason.

Caledonia fought hard to come back and they were given a golden opportunity to do so with a penalty called on Fort Erie with 76 seconds left on the clock.

Try as they might, it was the Meteors who scored, short-handed at that, and with the goalie pulled to give Caledonia an extra attacker. Sam Tonelli scored with just 26 seconds to go, bringing the score to 5-3.

This was the first time the Meteors have won a conference title since 1979.

The Meteors are moving forward to the round-robin playoffs for the Sutherland Cup, where they will face off against new opponents: the Listowel Cyclones and the St. Mary’s Lincolns.

Dates for these matchups are expected to be announced today.

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