Attack on Titan

Bulls battle Titans in the GMHL North Division Finals

Bulls battle Titans in the GMHL North Division Finals
Written by publishing team

The GMHL Junior A Bradford Bulls, underdogs who triumphed in their semifinal Jr. A hockey series against the Bradford Rattlers, face an even bigger challenge in the Greater Metro Hockey League North Division finals against the Temiskaming Titans.

Bulls finished the GMHL regular season in third place behind Temiskaming, which led the standings with a 36-win, two-loss record and 72 points. The Titans are also just off a three-game sweep of Ville Marie in the semifinals.

Game 1 of the Best of 7 series between the Bulls and the Titans took place in Temiskaming on March 23 – and the Titans overwhelmed the Bulls in an 8-2 show of force.

Temiskaming may have expected the Bulls to be shell-shocked into submission for game 2 on March 24, again in Temiskaming, but Bradford came out determined to take on the Titans.

The Bulls charged out of the gate to dominate period one, with a goal by Michael Haddad (#16) from Josh Booker (#6) and goalie Travis Smith (#30), just over 13 minutes into the frame, then scored a second marker, by Dylan Henri (#23) from Shawn Soliman (#17) and Smith.

Both Bradford goals were scored on the power play, thanks to Temiskaming penalties, giving the Bulls a 2-0 lead.

But Period 2 was all Temiskaming. Jericho Mongrain (#58) scored first, from Andrei Svalov (#17) and Jeremy Brooks (#9), 11:46 into the frame. Less than five minutes later, Titan Ilya Badanin (#67) notched a goal, on assists from Reingold Shtemke (#86) and #13 Pier-Luc Céré.

Tied 2-2 going into the final frame, Temiskaming went on the attack with #97 David Fontaine scoring a power-play goal less than four minutes in, from Charles-André Cypihot (#98) and #11 Nathan Hardy, to give the Titans has 3-2 lead.

It was short-lived, as Bradford pressed hard and 7:41 into the period tied it up on a goal by Alexander Quinn (#21) from #9 Nicholas Rotatore and #22 Nicolai Harries.

With the score of 3-all, both sides pressed. Outstanding goaltending by Travis Smith held off the Titans until, with less than 6 minutes remaining in the final frame, they broke through. Cypihot scored the winning marker, from Fontaine and Mongrain, to give Temiskaming the 4-3 win.

Smith was rewarded for his efforts, both defensive and offensive, with Star #1 of the game; the other stars went to Temiskaming goalie Eloi Bouchard (#31), for holding off the Bulls, and Titan forward David Fontaine.

Game 3 was held in Bradford on Saturday night – and for a while, it seemed as if the Bulls would take a win on home ice, even though the Titans were on fire at the start of Period One, with a rush that saw Jérôme Rochefort (#91) score a goal from Mikhail Kornilov (#4) and Reingold Shtemke just 23 seconds into the game.

It took the Bulls over seven minutes to answer and tie on the power play, a goal by Dylan Henri (#23) from Soliman and Booker. Bradford took the lead less than five minutes later when Joel Dielman (#10) scored from Michael Haddad and River Gull (#12).

The Bulls widened their lead to 3-1 in the second period, on a power-play goal by Liam Silva (#8) just 1:19 into the frame, assisted by Dielman and Harries.

Halfway through the period, Temiskaming narrowed the gap. Cypihot scored, from Hardy and William Godbout (#12) – goal thanks to Bulls goalie Travis Smith, Bradford held on to their 3-2 lead.

In the third period, strong skating and great saves by Smith maintained the Bulls’ lead for nearly four minutes – and then Temiskaming went on the attack. Titan Rochefort scored on the power play, from Hardy and Cypihot, to make it 3-3 – and less than three minutes later, Shtemke scored from Kornilov to give the Titans a 4-3 lead.

Temiskaming was to score twice more – a goal by Pier-Luc Céré from Ilya Badanin (#16) and Kornilov 15:41 into the period, and then by David Fontaine (#97) from Cypihot and Rochefort on the power play, with less than four minutes on the clock.

The Bulls pressed hard but all too often found themselves in the same position as they had put the Rattlers – facing a team that controlled the puck and dominated passing, interceptions and shooting. In the final minutes of play, the Bulls star goalie left the ice, due to an injury apparently suffered in the second period, after attempting to finish the game. Titan Jericho Mongrain received a penalty, and game misconduct.

Titans took a 6-3 win, and lead the best of 7 series 3-0.

Stars of the game went to the Temiskaming offense: #1 to Jérôme Rochefort (2 Goals, 1 Assist), #2 to Cypihot (1 goal, 2 assists) and #3 to Kornilov (3 assists).

Facing elimination, the Bulls are in a must-win situation in Game 4, scheduled for 7:30 pm Sunday at the BWG Leisure Centre. Come out and cheer on the Bradford Bulls. They need the hometown support: late word is that they will be without goalie Travis Smith for this critical game. Back-up goalie Chris Cabral will start in net.

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