Cayman inline hockey’s playoff finals started with optimism for the Cayman Hot Sauces Flames. Their opponents were the good but not dominant Deloitte Sharks and the Flames were feeling comfortable about their ability to take the Cherry Cup.
However, Deloitte’s roster is a composed one and that showed through in the series. For the opening five minutes of game one, Deloitte looked calm moving the puck around. They may have been somewhat taken aback when the Flames’ Gordon Mattison went for a wrap around attempt, with Chris Anton following up to put the puck high over goalie Scott Hughes, but the Sharks didn’t show it.
Instead, Dan Etherington took charge and his ability to cause defensive breakdowns allowed team-mates to enjoy wide open scoring chances. Even though Etherington would only manage one assist and no goals, his contribution proved invaluable all game.
In spite of the Sharks creating scoring chances with Tim and Joe Derksen and Claude Plamondon, the score was just 2-1. Fortune then favoured the Flames’ Rob Seward, who chased a puck behind the net and squeaked a shot past Hughes. Cayman Hot Sauce had a chance at the upset as Jean-Louis Beaudet played with a poise beyond his 17 years.
However, leading the Sharks charge would be the Derksen line, with senior Tim putting the puck in back of the net. Less than a minute later, Sharks’ Rob Rintoul let loose a rising shot from Etherington and the Sharks machine was surging. The Flames would fade, due to a short bench, though Hope, Mattison and Anton worked together for a score late.
Ultimately, the Sharks got three more scores and enjoyed a convincing 9-4 result. Three Stars: Dan Etherington, Claude Plamondon, Jean-Louis Beaudet.
Game two in the best-of-three series found a further depleted Flames bench. From there, Beaudet would be called for a tripping penalty after the opening face-off to put Deloitte on the power play.
Amazingly, the Sharks did not convert with the man advantage and allowed the opening goal as Beaudet converted from a Tyler Irwin assist. Moments later, Etherington answered by scoring off a Simon Craig pass. With a shortened bench, fatigue was setting in early again for the Flames and there was little they could do to stall Deloitte’s offence.
Yet Cayman Hot Sauce, despite being outnumbered and outgunned, played honourably and with determination to present their best challenge late in the game and earn Deloitte’s respect.
With the outcome pretty much determined, a number of role players stepped to the fore. Plamondon, not usually finding many points and somewhat of an irregular roster fixture, created goal scoring opportunities for his team. Wayne Griffith presented a strong ability to carry the puck forward.
Ultimately, Etherington steered the Sharks forward with dangerous passes and the Flames’ Beaudet showed his flexibility by holding it down on the defensive end. Beaudet, for both games, filled regular captain Mike Bowden’s spot and displayed a mature ability to create for his team-mates.
At the final whistle, there would be a lop-sided score due to a well-oiled Deloitte team. The Sharks would celebrate as cup champions thanks to a 10-3 win and 2-0 series sweep. Three Stars: Dan Etherington, Claude Plamondon, Tim Courtis.