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'It's tough': Powerhouse Siskins sweep aside Terriers in Game 4

'I played my whole junior career here and met a bunch of good guys who will be friends for life, so it’s tough for sure,' said emotional Josh Brown after the defeat

The McLean & Dickey Orillia Terriers’ season came to an abrupt halt at the hands of the dominant Stayner Siskins last night.

In what was a closer series than some of the game scores indicated, Stayner skated to a hard-fought 7-3 triumph Wednesday to sweep the series in four straight games.

The North Carruthers Division regular season champion Siskins wasted no time getting on the board in Game 4 of the Provincial Junior Hockey League second-round playoff series.  

Siskins forward Deandres Dejesus blasted his fourth of the playoffs past Terriers’ goalie Reed Spinola off a face-off in the attacking zone just 30 seconds after the opening puck drop. 

Despite the early goal allowed, the Terriers played the Siskins tough in the first period, winning on the shot clock, 10-9.

With 40 seconds left in the frame, Terriers’ forward Josh Brown intercepted the puck in the neutral zone which gave him a breakaway opportunity. After deking out goaltender Sam Hillebrandt, Brown rang a shot off the post to the dismay of the 273 Jr. C hockey fans at Rotary Place in west Orillia.

At the other end of the rink, with under five seconds to go, the Terriers committed a turnover of their own which allowed the Siskins a two-on-none opportunity. Luckily, Spinola bailed the home team out with a toe save, sending the Siskins to the break with a narrow 1-0 lead.

“I have confidence in myself to make those saves,” Spinola said. “My coaches and teammates have the same confidence in me to do the job back there which helps me play better.”

Spinola stopped 22 of 28 of the shots he faced on Wednesday night. He started all nine Terriers’ playoff games and finished the post-season with 3.66 goals against average and .896 save percentage.

The Terriers were neck-and-neck with the Siskins again in the second period, out-shooting the visitors 13-10 in the frame, but the Siskins extended their lead to 2-0 eight minutes in when forward Cody Marles scored on a deflected shot from linemate Ty Roberts.

The Terriers went into desperation mode and fed off the adrenaline of having their season in peril. Less than a minute later, Terriers forward Brady McLaren scored after firing one off a Siskins' defender and in.

Less than a minute after that, forward Devon Edmonds let one rip from the point, freezing Hillebrandt and stunning the Siskins bench where players had begun to sense a North Carruthers Division championship final.

“I feel like we started playing just to have fun,” Edmonds said. “We knew it could be our last game so kept the energy up on the bench and kept things loose.”

With the game tied up, Edmonds and his team started to believe they could pull off the upset in Game 4.

“It was a big moment for us — especially against Stayner who is a big team with the money that they put into it," Edmonds said.

The Siskins were able to regroup three minutes later after Terriers’ defenceman Kaden Washkurak took an inciting an opponent penalty, sending the team in green and gold to the power play. Siskins' defenceman Caleb Booth cashed in from the point, beating Spinola five-hole, for his first of the playoffs.

Midway through the third period, the Terriers found themselves in more crippling penalty trouble. Defenceman Matthew Campbell was sent to the box for slew footing Hillebrandt behind the net. The Siskins took advantage less than 30 seconds later when forward Damen Boose wired a wrist shot past Spinola to give the visitors a 4-2 lead.

What seemed to be the dagger came just a couple minutes later when Siskins' captain Tanner Hicks collected a rebound shot from in tight and pushed it past Spinola.

Terriers' forward Colton Dumond would add a marker on the power play with five minutes left on the score clock, but it wouldn’t be enough for the home squad to see another day. The Siskins responded just a minute later when Ty Roberts scored off a rush. Forward Gavin Mikaczo potted the empty netter with just 58 seconds remaining in the game to officially end the Terriers’ season.

Despite the loss, Terriers’ captain Dylan Palomaki says he’s proud of his team for the effort they put forward this season and in the playoffs.

“We played like brothers,” he said. “We played for each other every game and every shift.”

Palomaki says it’s going to be tough for him to get past the second-round series defeat anytime soon.

“We are never going to have this exact group back together again,” he said.  “We wanted to live to play one more day together.”  

Palomaki says he hopes to return to the Terriers for the 2023/24 season.

“We are going to put in the work in the off-season, see what comes of the team, and it will be back to the grind in training camp,” he said.

Wednesday’s loss spelled the end of Terriers’ forward Josh Brown’s time with the team. The over-ager played four seasons of his junior hockey career in Orillia and was the team’s leading goal scorer the past two seasons.

“I’m pretty emotional,” he said. “I played my whole junior career here and met a bunch of good guys who will be friends for life, so it’s tough for sure.”

Brown says he feels fortunate to have been a key piece of the Terriers’ organization for the past four years.

“No other rink has the fan base that we do,” he said. “All the little guys from minor hockey come out and support us, and it makes us feels like we are more than just a Jr. C team.”  

Brown hopes to continue to be a part of the Terriers’ organization in possibly a similar way as former captain Jake Beard, who is now an assistant coach.

Terriers’ forward Kory Lund is another player who has outgrown the PJHL. He spent two seasons with the Caledon Golden Hawks and another two seasons with the Schomberg Cougars, before landing in Orillia for his final season.

“I’m feeling a lot of happiness, and also sadness,” he said. “It’s a weird feeling knowing it’s over, but I had a lot of good times.”

Lund says the Terriers overcame a lot of adversity this season.

“We had to move to a different rink, we didn’t have a permanent dressing room and didn’t have a home really,” he said, referring to the team's forced move to Brian Orser Arena when Rotary Place was shut down. “A bunch of guys got banged up, but this group kept overcoming all the adversity.”

Lund expects big things from the Terriers next season if they can keep most of the band together while adding the missing pieces.

“The guys are so close,” he said. “Especially compared to other teams I’ve played on; this is a group that is tightly knit. Everybody really plays for each other.”

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Tyler Evans

About the Author: Tyler Evans

Tyler Evans got his start in the news business when he was just 15-years-old and now serves as a video producer and reporter with OrilliaMatters
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