Clark scores triple OT winner, Flames sweep Pirates
By Aaron McCracken
Chris Clark scored a dramatic goal at 2:06 of the 3rd overtime to give the Saint John Flames a 3-2 win and a series sweep over the Portland Pirates. Clark took a pass from Jason Botterill and rifled it past Sebastien Charpentier to end the longest game in the history of both teams. Charpentier made 65 saves in a losing effort and was brilliant throughout the final three periods.
Facing a sweep, Portland coach Glen Hanlon turned to back-up goaltender Charpentier for Game three. The Pirates got on the board early in the first. Less than minute in, a Mike Farrell shoot-in took a hard bounce off the end boards and came right to Mark Murphy, who potted it for his 2nd of the playoffs. Referee Mike Hasenfratz took control of the game early, calling several penalties on both teams. At one point, Portland broke in when killing a two-man disadvantage and managed to poke the puck through Martin Brochu's legs. However, much to the dismay of the Portland fans, the whistle had already gone and the goal was disallowed.
The Flames got on the board midway through the 2nd. After killing back-to-back penalties, Darrel Scoville and Sergei Varlamov streaked up ice and made a pretty tic-tac-toe pass play to beat Charpentier, with Varlamov getting credit for his 3rd goal in as many games. However less than a minute later, Jason Botterill made a horrible turnover and Jeff Nelson found Chris Corrinet wide open to give the Pirates the lead.
However, the Flames would get a break when Blair Betts dumped the puck in from the red line and it bounced at the top of the crease and jumped over Charpentier's pad, tying the game at two.
Both teams had huge chances to go ahead in the third, with Chris Clark and Steve Begin having whacks at a lose rebound with eight minutes left, however Charpentier would come up with two big saves. Portland would have a chance of its own with less than two minutes remaining when Derrick Walser coughed the puck up to Terry Yake who blasted a shot at Martin Brochu. The Saint John netminder would make the biggest of his 27 saves on the afternoon.
The first overtime solved nothing, although the Flames had several scoring chances, including whiffs by Rico Fata's and Dave Roche into seemingly an open net. Sebastien Charpentier made 12 saves to send the game into the 2nd extra frame.
The second overtime was played at a much slower pace, with both teams obviously tired. Still, both teams had numerous chances, with each goaltender standing strong. Charpentier made an additional 17 saves, while Brochu made 5. With 12 seconds left in the period, Dean Melanson tomahawked Sergei Varlamov with a high stick, earning the first penalty in almost sixty minutes. The Pirates killed off the penalty, but Micki Dupont sent a pass up ice just as Melanson was exiting the box to spring Botterill who would feed Clark for the dramatic victory.
Lines and Roster update
Murray – Varlamov – Botterill
Fata – Begin -- Clark
Betts – Roche – Elomo
Doull – Dewar
Walser – St. Croix
Montador – Scoville
Mrozik – Dupont
Daniel Tkaczuk (concussion), Mike Martin (foot), and Gatean Royer (knee) were scratched. Saint John native Jeff Dewar dressed but did not see action for the 2nd game in a row.
The Johnstown Chiefs' season is over, and there is talk that the Flames will add players to their 'taxi' squad. Likely candidates include forwards Blair Stayzer and Ryan Chaytors, and defensemen Jeff Sullivan and Mike Vellinga.