Majors grab playoff spot

TERRY KOSHAN -- Toronto Sun

, Last Updated: 7:47 AM ET

Justin Peters is not Irish but you can't blame the guy for pretending to be late last night.

"I'm going out to celebrate like I'm Irish," the St. Michael's Majors goalie said after the Majors, on St. Patrick's Day last night, secured the final playoff spot in the Ontario Hockey League. "It's rewarding to sit back and see what we have accomplished. There's a little bit of relief and some excitement."

Peters made 39 saves as the Majors rolled to an 8-3 shellacking of the Kingston Frontenacs before a sold-out crowd of 1,450 at St. Michael's Arena. The Majors, who have been to the Eastern Conference final each of the past four years but have not advanced to the OHL final, eliminated the Frontenacs from playoff contention. St. Mike's likely will play either intense rival Mississauga IceDogs or the Peterborough Petes in the first round starting next week. Although each matchup has been determined in the Western Conference, first-round opponents for each of the four series in the East remain up in the air.

"I think we can make some noise here," Peters, a Carolina Hurricanes prospect, said. "Our conference is pretty open. Going into the playoffs everybody has a clean slate. Whoever we play in the first round, we'll be ready."

The Majors struggled at times this season to score goals but exploded for a season-high last night. Two months ago, the Frontenacs were in eighth place in the conference and were eight points (42-34) ahead of the ninth-place Majors. But St. Mike's was one of the hottest teams in the league through January and February, putting together a 10-1-0-1 home record. Now, the Majors have 67 points to the Fronts' 61.

"I think we were 14, 15 points behind them at one point and to battle back, it's a great feeling," said Majors captain Nathan McIver, who had three assists in the win. "Everyone counted us out. We have to keep playing the way we have been."

IVANOV SCORES TWO

Alexei Ivanov, with two goals, Tyler Haskins, Peter Franchin, Dale Good, Ryan Wilson, Colin Power and Jeff Larsh scored for the Majors. St. Mike's plays host to the Barrie Colts in its regular-season finale on Sunday.

Brothers Chris Stewart and Anthony Stewart, as well as Bobby Bolt, scored for Kingston. The Frontenacs were partially done in by bad goaltending from Dayne Davis, who was pulled after allowing six goals on 26 shots.

"You can't win big games with goaltending like that," Kingston coach Jim Hulton said. "It was far too many soft goals. (Missing the playoffs) is extremely disappointing. For our young guys, we better damn well learn how much this stings. This hurts a lot right now."


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