DARRYL KNIGHT The Standard
Depth has been a key component of the Port Perry MoJacks' success this season, so it is little surprise that no player has scored multiple goals during the MoJacks' hot start to the playoffs, which has them leading the North Kawartha Knights three-games-to-none in the COJHL quarterfinals.
“That's MoJacks hockey. That's the way we've designed our systems and built our team," Port Perry head coach Clair Cornish told The Standard. "When we're playing at our best, the scoring is balanced throughout the lines, with contributions from our defence."
Finishing third in the COJHL regular season table on a tiebreaker after winning the head-to-head series with the Little Britain Merchants, the MoJacks drew the sixth-seeded North Kawartha Knights. The Apsley-based club is making its first-ever playoff appearance, after joining the COJHL in 2014.
The series opened in Port Perry on Wednesday, Feb. 3, with the MoJacks skating to a 6-3 victory.
A powerplay goal from Lucas Berkers was the lone goal of the first period. The Knights tied the game just 15 seconds into the second period, followed shortly afterwards by goals from Todd McNair and Kyle Schweda to give the home side a 3-1 advantage.
North Kawartha drew within a goal just before the midpoint of the game, but third period goals from Konrad Piorkowski, Ben Sheremeta and Jordan McCullough put the game out of reach, although the Knights would net a late powerplay goal to round out the scoring.
Saturday night, the MoJacks traveled to Apsley for a pivotal Game 2, and scored a hard-fought 4-3 win.
Boosted by a boisterous crowd witnessing the first playoff game in franchise history, North Kawartha jumped out to a 2-0 lead before Kyle Schweda could get Port Perry on the scoreboard.
A strong second period, with goals from Mitchell Gustavsen, Chris Polito and Jeff St. Pierre built a 4-2 lead for the MoJacks heading into the third period.
Just over four minutes into the third, North Kawartha netted a powerplay goal to draw to within one. However, that would be as close as they would come, as Brett Chandler made several key saves down the stretch to preserve a 4-3 win for the MoJacks.
Returning home for a matinee encounter on Sunday, Feb. 7, the MoJacks rolled to a 7-0 shutout at Scugog Arena, with Chandler turning aside all 23 shots from the Knights.
First period goals from St. Pierre and McNair built a 2-0 lead. The advantage swelled to 6-0 in the middle frame, with Gustavsen, Graham Lamers, Ethan Ramsden and Piorkowski finding the back of the net. A powerplay goal from Lucas Clark rounded out the afternoon's offensive output.
With Game 4 looming on Tuesday evening in Apsley (after The Standard's press deadline), Cornish has been working to keep his charges focused on the matter that is at hand.
"We have a gameplan and part of it is to look at each period on its own, and focus on what we can do in small intervals," explained Cornish.
The team has been avoiding the temptation to look ahead to a potential 'Battle of North Durham' match-up against the Uxbridge Bruins in the COJHL semifinals. The series would mark the first playoff meeting between the rivals since 2013, when the MoJacks were swept in a four-game semifinal series.
Check www.portperrymojacks.ca or www.thestandardnewspaper.ca for all of the latest news on the MoJacks. COJHL playoff action.
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