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UPDATED: Caps, Aces play drama-filled Game 1

Riley, MacArthur score late for Caps after go-ahead goal by St. Stephen disallowed


There was no lack of drama in the Summerside D. Alex MacDonald Ford Western Capitals’ MHL (Maritime Junior Hockey League) post-season opener.

Close calls around each team’s goal, and two late scores provided the storylines in the Caps’ 3-1 victory over the St. Stephen Aces on Saturday night.
“That’s the highs and lows of a playoff series,” said Caps head coach Billy McGuigan.

Winning goal
Before an announced crowd of 1,464 fans at Eastlink Arena, Dylan Riley scored off a scramble in front to give the Caps a 2-1 lead at 16:24 of the third period. The MHL’s player of the year, Brodie MacArthur, made no mistake on a breakaway 15 seconds later to close out the game’s scoring.
“There was a shot from the point and there was a little scrum in front, it just happened to come to me and I banged it home,” said Riley, a 20-year-old acquisition from the Pictou County Crushers at the Jan. 10 roster deadline.

Disallowed goal
It looked like the Aces had taken a 2-1 lead with 12:29 remaining in the third period. The Aces’ Zach Alchorn outraced Caps forward Cameron Roberts and goaltender Dominik Tmej, who came charging out of his net, to a loose puck in the centre of the ice at the hash marks. Alchorn managed to pull the puck to his right and direct it just inside the far post.
After it was originally ruled a goal and posted on the score clock, the officials – referees Nick Hann and Justin DesRoches along with linesmen Jared MacAdam and Alex Dillon – met in front of the penalty box and the call was reversed. It was announced the puck was kicked into the net.
The Aces thought they had opened the scoring as a hard shot off the left wing rang off the iron just 1:18 into the game. It was immediately indicated no goal, and the goal light never came on.
“It was a good hockey game,” said Aces general manager and head coach Emery Olauson. “By my math it was a 3-3 game.
“Pretty unfortunate on obviously that early goal. I’ve never seen a slapshot hit the post and land in the crease like that. I haven’t had the benefit of slow-motion replay, but it was a goal in my opinion.
“We get that one called back, and the kicking motion that the ref closest to it called a goal and then a linesman 95 feet away calls no goal, that’s bad luck.
“We came here, we set a tempo that we liked and give their goaltender credit. Other than the three that did get behind him, and the one that was allowed, he did a really remarkable job.
“(Against) Summerside, it’s the tug-of-war analogy where you can’t let go of the rope because they can score goals. They did what they have done all year.
“We have made up some ground, but before (Game 2) Tuesday we are going to have to figure out how to score more.”
The Caps reacted like they scored to go up 2-0 just as time was expiring in the first period, but it was ruled the puck never entered the net, and the goal light never came on.
“There was one (shot) it looked like it went in from our side, but it went off the cross bar and the refs made a great call on it, and there was one the other way that went off our cross bar and looked like it could have been a goal, too,” said McGuigan. “But they (officials) were Johnny-on-the-spot, and then we had the one that was kicked in and called back.
“There was a lot of drama in the game, but that is playoff hockey for you. I thought the officiating (Saturday) was excellent.”

Open scoring
The Capitals opened the scoring 2:26 into the game as Conor MacEachern walked in from the point, and unleased a wrist shot that beat Aces goaltender Joey May on the glove side.
The score remained 1-0 until Nick French’s power-play goal at 10:17 of the second period pulled the Aces even. French was able to tap home a bouncing puck during a scramble around Tmej, who made a glove save doing the splits off Brandon Costa on a short-handed break down the left wing with 2:56 left in the second period after a Summerside turnover at the St. Stephen blue-line to keep the score 1-1.
May denied Caps captain TJ Shea’s deke attempt on a short-handed breakaway with 14 minutes remaining in the first period.
Overall, Olauson said the Aces can take some positives out of Game 1.
“We wanted to set a good high tempo, and we did like the tempo,” he said. “We liked a lot of things.
“What we didn’t like was a couple of calls and a couple of breakdowns late in the game. At the end of the day, we came here to start the series, and start it in a fashion we felt like the tempo was eventually going to lean our way.
“We hope, as the series wears on, luck at the end of the day goes 50/50.”

A recap of Game 1 between Caps, Aces:
Final score – Caps 3, Aces 1.
Scoring – Caps: Brodie MacArthur (1-1), Conor MacEachern (1-1), Dylan Riley; Aces – Nick French.
Other assists – Caps: Jacob Arsenault, Sullivan Sparkes, TJ Shea; Aces – Andrew Antle.
Period scores – Caps led 1-0 after one period, and the teams were tied 1-1 after 40 minutes.
Shots on goal – 31-27 Caps.
Goaltenders – Caps: Dominik Tmej; Aces: Joey May.
Penalties – Caps: 7 minors; Aces: 5 minors.
Power plays – Caps: 0-for-4; Aces: 1-for-5.
Three stars 1. Conor MacEachern (Caps), 2. Brodie MacArthur (Caps), 3. Dominik Tmej (Caps).
Affiliated players  Both teams had affiliated players in their lineups. Riley MacDougall, who played with the Charlottetown-based Mount Academy Saints this season, suited up for the Caps while Kensington Wild forward Ryan Richards played for the Aces.
Attendance – 1,464.
Upcoming games – Game 2 is in St. Stephen, N.B., on Tuesday, and Game 3 is back in Summerside on Thursday. Both are 7 p.m. starts.

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