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Saturday, April 13, 2024
Sports: Predators win first-round playoff series
Niagara finds the net and pops the water bottle with its final goal last Friday night en route to a 5-2 win over St. George. Kevan Dowd

They’re not finished yet.

Staying cool, calm and hungry, the Jr. A Niagara Predators came out on top in an 8-2 victory over the St. George Ravens Tuesday night.

Niagara’s second win in the best-of-three quarter-final round of the playoffs ended the Ravens’ season and means the Predators move on to the Greater Metro Hockey League’s south division semi-finals.

Niagara now faces the first-place North York Renegades in a best-of-five series starting at home this Friday night.

Niagara started its series against the Ravens last Friday night at the Meridian Credit Union Arena in Virgil with a 5-2 win, only to lose 4-2 two days later on the road.

So, things were do-or-die Tuesday night. But, according to Predators head coach Kevin Taylor, the game was theirs to win from the moment they walked into the rink.

“Tonight, they wanted it. That was the nice part of the game. They were pumped for that game,” he said.

“They did what they were told to do, they worked hard and came out with the two points. It’s a job we got done but there’s still more to do.”

All season, the south division’s top three teams – North York, the Durham Roadrunners and Bradford Bulls – have been well ahead of the rest of the teams in the division and with all three entering round two, being among the group bring a certain amount of prestige to Niagara.

But taking on the very capable Renegades will be no easy task.

“It’s going to be a challenge for these guys,” said Taylor.

“The four teams that finished in the top of the league, they’re all playing each other so it’s going to be interesting. We have our work cut out for us.”

Taylor feels they have at least one advantage going into the series – they will be starting at home, despite North York having home ice advantage in the series.

“Just because of the way the schedule worked out, they didn’t want to play during the week so they did do us a huge favour and it’s huge for us,” said Taylor.

“We could potentially be out of here with a lead in the series and it is a short series.”

But a single win at home will not be enough to eliminate a team Niagara has failed to beat even once all year, though Taylor remains optimistic.

“We need to be much more disciplined, there’s going to be more line-matching. They’ve got two lines that can put the puck in the net at will,” he said.

“As long as we can come to play and we play our systems and we play our game and stay under control, it’s going to be a really good series for everyone.”

Niagara takes on the Renegades this Friday, March 3, at the Meridian Credit Union Arena in Virgil. Action starts at 7:30 p.m.

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