St. Stephen Aces Jr. A Hockey Club

Aces look to regroup after tough playoff debut

@MTimberWolves

The St. Stephen Aces got a stark introduction to playoff hockey on Saturday as a veteran-laden Miramichi Timberwolves team scored a decisive 10-1 victory to take a 1-0 lead in the Best of 7 EastLink North Division Semi-Final.

The Aces struggled to find any momentum and were outshot 52-21. The St. Stephen club hung on for the first period, trailing 1-0 after 20 minutes. The Timberwolves took a 2-0 lead early in the second then at 7:10 of the period, Casey Fox scored the Aces’ first ever playoff goal, assisted by Evan White and Alex Lafreniere, to cut the Miramichi lead to 2-1.

More than 50 Aces fans, including Mayor Allan MacEachern and MLA John Ames, made the trek north and cheered loudly.

Miramichi, however, regained control with three more goals in the second and five in the third.

Game 2 of the series goes Monday night at the Garcelon Civic Center in St. Stephen before returning to Miramichi for Game 3 on Wednesday and back to St. Stephen on Friday for Game 4.

Aces Head Coach and GM Josh Hepditch said he’s not surprised that Game One in Miramichi was a tough one for his young team.

“Miramichi has a very strong team who loaded up at the trade deadline to make a run at a championship this year,” he said.

“They have a veteran team that has a lot of playoff experience. We’re going need to gain experience quick as we only have two players that have ever played in a junior playoff game.”

The Aces had a strong second half to fight their way into the playoffs and for much of the last half of the team’s schedule, games felt like do-or-die playoff games. Hepditch said they need to maintain that feeling to compete with the Timberwolves.

“We need to be at our best every game and be ready to compete with the best in our division,” he said. “Miramichi is a team that has a lot of fire power. We need to be good away from the puck and try to limit what we give. They are deep and have four good lines that can score.”

Hepditch said he wants his players to stay positive after Saturday’s loss – the first game in a long series.

“We played well down the stretch and have played Miramichi tough all year so we’re looking to try and build on that and continue to play well,” he said.