Elora Rocks closing in on Sleemans Cup championship
FERGUS – The Elora Rocks are a win away from becoming the first ever team to raise the Sleemans Cup as the inaugural champions of the Western Ontario Super Hockey League.
The Rocks edged the Tillsonburg Thunder 3-2 Friday night at the Centre Wellington Community Sportsplex to claim a 3-2 lead in the best-of-seven final.
Elora Rocks 3 Tillsonburg 2
The win came courtesy of a late scoring spree by the Rocks as all three of their goals were netted in the final seven minutes of the game.
After a scoreless first period, Tillsonburg connected for a pair of goals in the first three and a half minutes of the second period as Brendan Barletta (0:58) and Jake Brown (3:30) scored the goals. They each assisted on each other’s goal while Cam Sault assisted on both.
Those goals stood as the lone goals of the game until Charlie Stephens connected for the Rocks at 13:27 of the third period. Stephens, who played five seasons in the OHL including parts of four with the Guelph Storm (1998-99 to 2001-02) and a total of eight games in the NHL with the Colorado Avalanche in the 2002-03 and 2003-04 seasons, tied the score with 5:08 to go before Alex Utley, the league’s top point-getter in the regular season, fired in the winner with 62 seconds to go.
Phil Teri assisted on both of the goals by Stephens while Luke Baleshta, Spencer Maccormack, Zack Cameron and Michael Giacometti each had one assist.
Both teams were scoreless on their power plays as Tillsonburg had four power plays and Elora had three.
The Rocks outshot the Thunder 32-28.
Colin Dunne had 26 saves to get the win in net for the Rocks while Jesse Raymond had 29 saves for Tillsonburg.
Game 6 is set for Saturday at the Tillsonburg Community Centre. Game time is 7:30 p.m.
If Tillsonburg wins that game, the championship trophy is to be handed out following a game Sunday in Fergus as Game 7 is slated to be held at the Centre Wellington Community Sportsplex.
Friday’s game in the series was the first since April 9 as the league’s playoffs took the Easter weekend off.
The Rocks and Thunder were rivals in the Western Ontario Athletic Association’s senior league who jumped to the new league following its creation.
- Guelph Sports Journal