SUMMERSIDE, P.E.I. – Chris Caissy scored 16:57 into overtime to give the Summerside Western Capitals a 3-2 semifinal win over the Surrey Eagles on Saturday night and send the host team to the championship game at the 2013 RBC Cup.
Caissy picked up a loose puck in the neutral zone and eluded a check before snapping a shot just inside the far post past Surrey goaltender Michael Santaguida, igniting the record-setting hometown crowd of 3,386 at CUP.
It’s the third time the Western Capitals have advanced to the title game, and the third time they’ve needed extra time to win their semifinal; they needed triple overtime to beat the Moncton Hawks 3-2 in 1989, and topped the Weyburn Red Wings 4-3 in 1997. Ironically, the 1989 and 1997 tournaments were both hosted in Summerside.
The Western Capitals are just the fifth team since the introduction of the tournament format in 1985 to reach at least three national finals – Vernon (seven), Camrose (four), Humboldt (four) and Penticton (three) are the others.
JP Harvey and Danny Chiasson had the goals in regulation time for Summerside, which avenged an overtime loss to the Eagles during the preliminary round. Caissy was in on every Western Capitals goal, adding two assists.
Kevin Bailie stole the show in the Summerside goal, finishing with 50 saves, including three point-blank stops in the opening two-and-a-half minutes of overtime.
Drew Best and Brett Mulcahy scored for Surrey, which twice erased one-goal deficits to force overtime. It’s the second time the Eagles have had their season ended at the national championship by Summerside; the Western Capitals beat Surrey in the 1997 final in Summerside.
Santaguida matched Bailie almost save for save, turning aside 42 of 45 shots in a losing cause.
The goaltenders were simply dominant in the first two periods; the teams went almost 40 minutes without a goal before Harvey slid a loose puck through Santaguida on a Summerside power play with just 24.8 seconds left in the middle frame.
Best drew Surrey even at 4:47 of the third period, sneaking behind the Summerside defence and roofing a shot over the glove of Bailie, but Chiasson restored the Western Capitals lead 3:01 later, sneaking a backhand past a stretching Santaguida for the 2-1 advantage.
Mulcahy, the Eagles captain, tied the game again at 12:42, deftly redirecting a Dan O’Keefe point shot past Bailie to force extra time.
The 3,386 fans beat the old mark of 3,176 set at the 2007 championship game in Prince George, B.C., between the Aurora Tigers and host Spruce Kings.
(Nathan can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org)