The Midget Espoir Royals narrowly bested their Lac St. Louis rivals, the Grenadiers Sunday afternoon in Lachine in their last game of the season. Despite having taken a 5-2 lead by the end of the second period thanks to goals from Beau Rusk, Tyler Gilbert, Pierre-Emile Cyr, Vincent Watt and Evan Stamegna, the Royals were still given great opposition in the third period by the Grenadiers before Watt scored his second goal of the game in an empty net with 31 seconds to go in regulation.
The Grenadiers, who were playing with a shorthanded roster of eight forwards and four defensemen, scored 37 seconds in the third when Diabo Kharatoton quickly passed from behind the net to Brandon McCulloch in front who bested goaltender Joseph Picard five-hole to make it a one-goal game.
For the first part of the third period, the Grenadiers dominated their adversary offensively notably thanks to two power plays. They weren’t able to put one behind Picard however as the stubborn goalie made save after save. All in all, the Grenadiers were frustrated on seven good scoring chances in the third period.
“Our goalie is a real competitor. At the end he saved the game. When you think of it, he’s only lost two games all year. He came on this team coming from Bantam BB so it’s a big jump. The game was on the line today and he was ready. He wasn’t nervous or scared. He wanted to make the saves. We’re going to need that if we want to go further,” said Royals’ head coach Jim Webster.
The Grenadiers failed to score again on Picard and the Royals held on for the win which ensured them the second rank in the league, second only to the Laval Patriotes. The Royals finish the regular season with a record of 17-8-7.
As for Grenadiers’ head coach Christian Cardinal, he was proud of his squad after the game despite having failed to complete a comeback in the third period.
We’re working on being competitive at every shift. I think my players did a good job at doing that today. My guys showed a lot of character today especially given the fact that we were playing with only eight forwards and four defensemen. However, we faced a goalie that was in the zone today,”
The playoffs of the Midget Espoir league will be played this weekend in Valleyfield. The Royals will play their opening game against the Basses-Laurentides Conquérants on Friday. Webster feels confident about the upcoming playoffs from what he has seen from his team throughout the year.
“If we play the way we have played so far, I think we have a chance to win. I like our chances: you look at Laval who are highly favored, we lost to them 1-0 early in the season, we tied them 2-2 and lost to them 3-2 in overtime twice so we’re at their level. We’re also at Mille-Illes’ (third seed) level so if we eliminate our mistakes we should do good. We’ve only had two games all year where we had everybody on the lineup. Zach Tsekos (absent Sunday) should be back in the lineup Friday so with a full lineup, I think we can provide a good competition. I won’t say we should win but we can win,” he said.