© Gary Manning
An excited Mike Molloy gets high fives from his teammates as he celebrates his goal, scored just over a minute into the first period of play. Valley couldn't hold onto the advantage, however, and lost 5-2 to the Truro Bearcats in game two of playoff semifinal action.
It’s do or die as the Wildcats head to Truro Thursday night for game three of the semifinal playoff series against the Bearcats.
Valley’s 5-2 loss put the Wildcats down 2-0 in the best-of-seven series against the league champs, but head coach Nick Greenough isn’t willing to throw in the towel yet.
“We’ve got to go up there and win one now,” Greenough said. “It’s a must win for us up there.”
Tuesday’s game in Kentville was a lot closer than the scoresheet might show, with Truro outshooting Valley by just two, 43-41.
“It was a lot better effort, there were a couple mistakes made there, but they’ve got a veteran team and if we make mistakes, they’ll capitalize,” Greenough said. “I think our guys played much better, I was a lot happier with the effort.”
The Wildcats took an early lead when Mike Molloy scored just over a minute into the first period, off the stick of Kaden Ruest and Anthony Cardinal. The Bearcats came back to tie things up midway through the first period as Jeff Hanes picked up a marker for Truro.
The Bearcats took the lead in the second period, scoring three unanswered goals to make it 4-1. Eight minutes into the third period, Austin Harding picked up his first playoff goal to make it 4-2, with Jeremy Butterworth getting the assist.
With three minutes left on the clock, Greenough pulled the goalie to get the man advantage, but the Wildcats couldn’t keep it in the Truro zone and Hanes picked up his second goal of the night on the empty net.
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“I think everyone did well tonight,” Greenough said. “The other day, it was hard to find guys who played well, but tonight I thought everyone brought their effort. We’re happy with what they did on the ice, it was just a couple bad bounces. The first goal, I thought, was a good goal. I think it was a good hockey game to watch for the fans, we just have to focus on the positives in this game.”
The negative, though, is that they’ll have to head to Truro March 20 for game three. Truro has a bigger ice surface and the Bearcats – an older team than the fledgling Wildcats – knows how to use it to their best advantage.
Morale is still high among the Valley squad, Greenough said.
“Our guys are professionals, they know they can do it, you see a lot of teams down by three and they still come back and they do it,” he said. “We’ve got to keep the positive attitude around here, out guys have to keep the morale up. That’s why it’s a best of seven, we plan to make it a long series.”
Greenough was making plans for a light skate and a team meeting on Wednesday.
“The ball’s in our players court, so they’ve just got to play and, hopefully, the results are better for us up there,” Greenough said.