PORTLAND, ME – April 16, 2022 – After the Worcester Railers lost in overtime to Trois-Rivieres on Saturday afternoon, the Mariners needed just one point to clinch a spot in the Kelly Cup playoffs. For good measure, they got two, defeating the Newfoundland Growlers 4-3 in a shootout on Saturday night in the 2021-22 regular season finale. The Mariners will meet the Reading Royals in the North Division semifinals starting Wednesday night at Santander Arena.
Newfoundland grabbed an early lead in the game when Tyler Boland’s backhand in tight made it 1-0 just 3:03 into the game. The Mariners immediately responded however, when Mathew Santos ripped a slap shot off the cross bar and in just five seconds into a power play at 3:37. Maine then jumped ahead at 7:11 when Cam Askew drove down the left wing and wristed one past Rylan Parenteau for an unassisted goal.
There was no scoring in the middle frame, but the Mariners killed off over a minute of 5-on-3 against early after Connor Doherty’s slashing penalty. The Mariners also came up empty on a pair of power play chances in the period.
The Growlers tied the game quickly in the 3rd when Derian Plouffe faked a shot and fed Isaac Johnson for a tap-in to make it 2-2 just 37 seconds into the period. With the Mariners on their heels, Zach Malatesta drew Jeremy McKenna into a slashing penalty, giving the Mariners a crucial power play midway through the third. With the man advantage, Nick Master fired a shot that appeared to hit the inside of the net and went under a lengthy review, eventually confirmed a goal to give the Mariners a 3-2 lead at 9:21. The Growlers would respond with a McKenna breakaway goal at 13:31, also on the power play to knot it up at three and set up a tense final 6:29 in which the Mariners held off the Growlers to force OT, earn a point, and clinch their playoff spot.
After a scoreless overtime session, Cam Askew and Mathew Santos scored for the Mariners in the shootout while for Newfoundland, Tyler Boland hit the post and Jeremy McKenna was denied by Lekkas. Santos’ backhand move in the 2nd round ended the game. Lekkas made 40 saves on 43 shots through overtime.
The Mariners conclude the regular season with a final record of 33-31-5-3, the only team in the North Division to play all 72 games. They open the postseason on Wednesday, April 20th at Reading for Game 1 of the best-of-7 North Division Semifinals at 7 PM. Game 2 will be Friday, April 22nd. Games 3, 4, and 5 (if necessary) will be played at the Cross Insurance Arena on April 28th, 29th, and 30th. Game times, ticket information, and more details to follow.