Matt Schmermund tied for most goals scored for the Dawson Creek Canucks this season at 14, but he had yet to score in the playoffs.
He couldn’t have picked a better time to light the lamp.
Schmermund’s goal at 11:53 of the third period proved to be the game-winning goal as DC won the first game of the NPHL Final at home 3-1 over the Grande Prairie Athletics.
DC scored first as Brett Norman’s team-leading eighth goal of the playoffs opened the scoring at 1:24 of the first period.
However, Devin Bell’s marker tied the score with 2:41 left in the period.
The teams battled through a scoreless second period and remained tied heading into the third. It should come as no surprise the teams were tied given the long history of close games between the clubs.
Schmermund’s goal was scored at even-strength, as were all goals on the night. GP was 0-for-6 on the power play while DC was 0-for-5.
GP pulled goaltender Kiefer Smiley with 2:01 left and Kevin Hope scored into an empty net. It has also his first of the playoffs; he was playing in his first game.
GP’s Chris Lanouette and DC’s Evan Weaver face one-game suspensions for fighting at the end of the game.
It was the 100th game between the two rivals in playoff and regular season history. With the win, and a 1-0 lead in the NPHL Final, DC leads the all-time series between the clubs 51-49.
Game 2 is in GP on Tuesday night.
Grande Prairie 1 at Dawson Creek 3
Saturday, March 9
Best-of-Seven NPHL Final
[DC leads series 1-0]
1. DC, Brett Norman 8 (Kevin Swales) 1:24
2. GP, Devin Bell 4 (Sam Boseck, Parker Sharp) 17:19
Penalties: Mark Stojan, GP (cross-checking) 6:42, Matt Schmermund DC (hooking) 7:30, Dennis Rix GP (slashing) 9:44, Ryan Friesen DC (boarding) 12:20, Andrew Buote GP (interference) 19:44.
Penalties: Sam Boseck GP (high-sticking) 5:04, Tyrell Mason GP (interference) 7:29, Riley Muise DC (hooking) 11:35, Chris Lanouette GP (roughing, misconduct) and Jonathan Jasper DC (roughing) 15:14, Ryan Friesen DC (interference) 18:09.
3. DC, Matt Schmermund 1 (Ryan Friesen, Jeff Taylor) 11:53
4. DC, Kevin Hope 1 (unassisted) 18:53 (en)
Penalties: Brett Norman DC (hooking) 6:23, Matt Schmermund DC (slashing) 12:43, Chris Lanouette GP and Evan Weaver DC (fighting majors, game misconducts) 20;00.
Shots on goal:
Goal: Kiefer Smiley GP; Kenton White, DC.
Power Plays: GP 0-6; DC 0-5.
PIM: GP 37; DC 29.