By Stephen Dafoe
Morinville – The 2011 playoff season came to a disappointing end for the Morinville Titans Saturday night with a 3-0 shutout defeat against the Edmonton Avalanche on home ice.
The Titans entered the best-of-three semi-finals round in Edmonton Friday night and were narrowly defeated 3-2 by the Avalanche, a club that ended the 2010-2011 Noralta Junior C Hockey League season in first place.
Saturday night’s home game saw the Ray McDonald Sports Centre packed with enthusiastic and noisy Titans fans who cheered the club on through three periods. Although the outcome was not the one the fans had been hoping for, the cheers, air horns and other noisemakers played on.
Although the Avalanche defeated the Titans in the end, they did not bury them. The Titans gave up but one goal per frame to give the avalanche their 3-0 victory.
“They finished first for a reason – they’re a good team,” said Coach Jeff Montina after Saturday night’s loss to the Avalanche, adding the Titans had a lot more scoring opportunities against the Edmonton club during Friday night’s road game. “That’s the main thing. When we got them, their goalie stopped them.”
But the Avalanche’s backstop was not the only one who put in a strong effort. Although he allowed three goals to get past him, Titans goalie Jordan Brand halted 33 of the Avalanche’s 36 shots on net during Saturday night’s contest.
“Jordie was phenomenal both games,” Montina said. “He stopped five breakaways last [Friday] night. He’s been that way all year. He’s our backbone for sure.”
The coach said he and the rest of the Titans coaching staff were pleased with the club’s year.“We’re really happy with the season,” Montina said. “It’s not as far as we expected to get, but we’re happy with as far as we got. Overall it was a great season.”
Montina and the Titans have every right to be pleased. In their inaugural season under the club’s new name and new jersey, the Titans were knocked out in the first round of playoffs. But even that was a considerable improvement from previous years as the Super Cs when the club did not always make it to playoffs.
Although the season is over, the Titans will play the loser of the other semi-finals series sometime this week. The winner of that contest will get the last slot at the upcoming Junior C provincials to be held in Calgary.