April 19, 2007 - Southern Professional Hockey League (SPHL) - Fayetteville Marksmen
[FAYETTEVILLE, N.C.] - The Fayetteville FireAntz of the Southern Professional Hockey League (SPHL) defeated the Jacksonville Barracudas in Game 4 of the finals last night, 5-3, and clinched the President\'s Cup. They won the series three games to one, and for the playoffs, won seven games and only dropped one. The FireAntz won their first title in franchise history and the first championship for the city of Fayetteville in 51 years.
The FireAntz jumped out to a quick 2-0 lead on power play goals by B.J. Stephens (5) and regular-season Most Valuable Player Rob Sich (5). Stephens converted on a nifty pass from Bryan Dobek, beating goaltender Ryan Person. Sich, from a bad angle, batted at a rebound of a Josh Welter shot and squeezed it by a surprised Person. Goaltender Chad Collins, who would later be named Most Valuable Player of the Playoffs, turned aside all 11 shots from the Barracudas.
In the second period, after forward Tim Velemirovich left the ice from taking a puck to the face, Marc Norrington (2) converted on a great feed from Welter to extend the lead to 3-0. Jacksonville would cut the lead to two goals on a Ryan Webb goal that deflected off of the shin pad of a FireAntz defender. With the FireAntz protecting a two-goal lead and on a 5-on-3 power play, Sich (6) blasted a one-timer past a helpless Person to regain the FireAntz three-goal cushion going into the third period.
The third frame, as to be expected, was a flurry of Barracudas shots at Collins. Tyrone Garner netted his seventh goal of the playoffs, on a power play, after banging home a rebound in a scrum in front of Collins at the 6:30 mark. Jacksonville would pull within one goal at the 14:10 mark, on a goal by Ryan Webb, once again on a rebound and with all of the Barracudas players below the circles. After continuous flurries by Jacksonville, they were forced to pull Person with a minute remaining and Josh Tataryn (2) scored into the empty net to clinch the win and the President\'s Cup.
Collins turned aside 35 of 38 shots in the contest and was stellar throughout the playoffs, earning the Most Valuable Player of the SPHL Playoffs. He was 7-1 with a 2.60 goals against average and a .924 save percentage.
Head Coach John Marks won his third professional championship, his first in the SPHL. His prior two were in the East Coast Hockey League (ECHL.)