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Jr Canadians Edge Meteors In Game One



Fort Erie Meteors goaltender Liam Conway saw Welland Junior Canadians forward Jack Fitzgerald's back, and Tyler Stranges' shot saw the back of the net.

His goal, with 20 seconds remaining in regulation, gave Welland a 3-2 victory and a 1-0 lead in a best-of-seven Golden Horseshoe Conference junior B hockey quarter-final playoff series.

All in all, a pretty good outcome for a last-ditch play on which Stranges was planning on seeking an open teammate.

“I was looking for a pass, but I shot the puck. It was a great screen by Fitzie,” the 19-year-old Welland native said.

The fans deserved an assist for the come-from-behind win as far as Stranges was concerned.

“The fans were unbelievable tonight. After each goal, the cheers were amazing. They got us going,” he said.

Like everyone on the ice and in the announced crowd of 558 at Welland Arena, Stranges was fulling expected Thursday night's series opener to go into overtime.

“For sure, I thought we would still be playing.”

Unlike the final game of the Greater Ontario Junior Hockey League regular season, which saw the familiar foes combine for 222 minutes in penalties, the first game of the playoff was just that, a hockey game.

While the boards took a beating and heavy traffic in front of the net resembled a demolition derby at times, the chippiness this time out was more indicative of two teams trying to open the playoffs with a win than of one trying to send a message to the other. Fort Erie served 10 minutes on five infractions, Welland nine minutes on four penalties.

“It was a great game, and a good team effort. We had to work hard,” Stranges said.

He wasn't surprised that bad blood from Sunday night's regular season finale didn't spill over into Thursday night's playoff game.

“You don't take stupid penalities in the playoffs. We're not a fighting team, we just want to score,” the 2 1/2-year veteran with the Front Row Sports Junior Canadians said.

The B's outshot Fort Erie 38-20, but Conway was Welland netminder Hunter Johnson's equal when it came to making the saves he needed to make.

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