By Adam Jacobs
The Charlottetown Abbies have played their last game of the season.
The host team Abbies gracefully bowed out of contention Wednesday after an 8-5 loss to the Humboldt Broncos, who secured a place in the semi-finals on Saturday.
It was a game won on the powerplay, as the Broncos scored on 6 of 9 opportunities.
"That’s what we are capable of…I thought today was out strongest game yet," said Josh Podaima, who scored two goals in the contest. "We take pride in our powerplay; it’s a big part of every game. Every powerplay goal is obviously a bonus."
Tied at 2 after the first period, it looked very much like one goal was going to decide the game early on. The Abbies came out strong scoring first in the second to take a 3-2 lead and what looked to be control of the game.
Broncos’ coach Bob Beatty said his team was ready to respond after the Abbies goal, doing so within minutes.
"We’ve bounced back, we’ve had some adversity over the course of the year, we have a lot of character and we don’t panic when we’re down a goal. We just had to gain some composure," said Bob Beatty.
Abbies fans showed their appreciation for their team in the waning minutes of the game with many standing in ovation for a team that fought to the very end, a team that will not see all of its current players back next year.
Abbies goaltender Cory Roberts is going to miss his teammates, having played his last game of junior hockey.
"I’m going to miss the guys in the room, everyone got along real good so that’s the toughest thing right now. We have to cherish this last bit of time together," he said.
Charlottetown captain Jeff Ellis explained why his team will no longer be playing this year.
"We lost two overtime heartbreakers, if you look back at those had we have gotten one bounce we’d be through to the semi-finals," he said before giving credit to the Broncos.
"We played a good hockey team tonight; they were rested and came out flying. We had a tough battle last night and we weren’t as fresh. We can hold our heads high because not one guy quit on our hockey team."
The Broncos found themselves on top early as they scored the first two goals of the game.
Kris Kasper scored the second Humboldt goal on a 2-man Broncos’ advantage after the Abbies’ defensemen Steve Thomas and Brad Lewis were serving roughing and cross-checking penalties at 7:07 in.
The Abbies breathed life into the contest a few minutes later when they scored the first of their two goals, tying the contest.
Clement Arsenault scored a spectacular solo-effort goal as he side-stepped a Humboldt defenseman before putting the putting the puck behind the Bronco’s Sean Connors who was partially screened by his own defender.
With the momentum shifting in their direction, the Abbies wasted no time in scoring their next goal.
Troy Ilijow found himself alone with the puck in the crease after a pass from behind the Broncos’ goal, meant for a winger, hit a skate and was redirected in front of the net. Illijow had plenty of time to bury it behind Connors.
The second period opened and closed promising for Charlottetown. The Abbies scored goals in the opening three-minutes and the closing minute of the frame, but the middle minutes told a different story.
Humboldt scored five goals in the period, taking charge in the game that controlled the Abbies’ fate.
Arsenault scored his second of the game for the Abbies, briefly giving hope to Charlottetown fans.
Craig Olynick began the Bronco’s charge on the powerplay, after Joel Petkoff of the Abbies was penalized for slashing, by putting a point-shot between the legs of a screened Roberts.
That knotted the contest 3-3. Brad Erickson put the Bronco’s ahead at 6:28 of the frame. Podaima scored a two-on-one goal minutes later after taking a beautiful cross ice pass from the afore-mentioned Erickson, going upstairs over Roberts’ outstretched glove.
On yet another powerplay, Podaima scored his second goal of the game. Mark Bradshaw started the play with a point-shot Roberts easily turned aside. Podaima picked up the loose puck behind the net and banked it off the back of Roberts’ leg and into the goal.
"That was planned believe it or not. Roberts thought I was going the other way. You see it on TV all the time and I thought I may as well try it. It worked," said Podaima
The Broncos would score their fifth of the period on a beautiful corner-to-corner pass through the crease. Orrin Hergott would roof a perfect tape-to-tape pass over Roberts, knocking the water bottle he rested on the goal onto the ice.
The Abbies closed out the period scoring a powerplay goal. Illijow scored his second, muscling in front of the net, and putting it behind Connors.
The Abbies came out hard in the most important period of their season.
Unfortunately for them it wasn’t enough as they could muster but one goal. Both teams traded markers with Humboldt scoring first on a powerplay. A point shot from Colin Johnson which beat Roberts.
The Abbie’s last goal of the season was a powerplay goal, scored by Rob Chapman, assisted by Steve Thomas and Brad Larter.
The final score was 8-5 with The Abbies registering 43 shots to Humboldt’s 37.
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