From last-second tying goals, to coaches getting ejected, to road teams upping their record in these palyoffs to a scintillating 1-16, Sunday had it all in the Ontario Hockey League playoffs. On with the post-game questions:
Kitchener 2 Guelph 0 (Rangers lead 2-0) — How nice would it be to be able to focus on a well-played game instead of the goofiness in the final two minutes? The Storm couldn't stop listening to the voices in their head — who knew there's room for someone else in there besides Rangers goalie John Gibson? — and went over the edge in the final two minutes.
Suffice to say, what happened on the ice didn't stay on the ice. Guelph's Cody McNaughton got a slashing penalty and misconduct with one minute left. On the next stoppage, the Storm's Ryan Horvat tore Rangers captain Ryan Murphy's helmet off to try to start a fight, but Murphy turned the other cheek. A small minority of spectators at Kitchener Memorial Auditorium turned on the Storm.
Storm coach Scott Walker says Kitchener fans threw beer and spit on his players near end of the game.
— Tony Saxon (@SaxonOnTheStorm) March 25, 2013
Scott Walker on the refereeing:"SPECTACULAR!"But i don't think he was being sincere.
— Tony Saxon (@SaxonOnTheStorm) March 25, 2013
@sparrkie thanks very much for listening/watching. On behalf of Kitchener, I apologize. I mean that. Terrible display at The Aud.
— Mike Farwell (@farwell590) March 25, 2013
Kitchener has had a 15-6 edge in power plays through the two games. Guelph, which on paper matches up well with the Rangers, cannot dwell on it. Or else this could be a shorter series than many expected.
How many stars did Gibson deserve? Kitchener coach-GM Steve Spott said in a post-game radio interview that Gibson deserved "all three" after his 49-save performance, which included 23 in the opening 20 minutes. Such performances have been so standard for Gibson when he's been healthy and in top form that it's almost expected. Being named goalie of the year in the OHL is probably out of the question since he was limited to 27 games by injury, NHL training camp and the WJC. Plus his 2.41 average and .928 save percentage was not so far above the combined 2.45 and .923 of the other three goalies the Rangers used. He's the man, though. If that sounds like an excuse for leaving him out of the BTN 3 Stars, it is.
Will Walker do more line-juggling before Game 3 on Tuesday? Rangers beat writer Josh Brown noted noted the Storm sagged after breaking up the Robby Fabbri-Tyler Bertuzzi-Justin Auger trio "to accommodate the absence of [Brock] McGinn," who is suspended until Game 4.
London 3 Saginaw 2, 2OT (Knights lead 2-0) — 57 stopped 67 and the Spirit still lost, what coming back is there from that? Spirit goalie Jake Paterson, BTN's first star of the day, turned in an "unbelievable" performance to nearly tie the series. The Detroit Red Wings third-rounder seems to treat any game with the Londons as a dare-to-be-great deal. Yet it was not enough, as Bo Horvat tied it with 0.3 seconds left and San Jose Sharks prospect Chris Tierney, who already has five points in the playoffs, won it at 9:11 of the second OT.
From Ryan Pyette:
“We thought the buzzer already went there,” Saginaw’s speedy forward Terry Trafford said. “It definitely sucks losing like that, but we gave it our all out there. By playing that way, we know we can keep up with them and we know to come ready to battle at home (Tuesday).
“Jake (Paterson) seems to really get up for these London games every year. He’s a great goaltender. We’re lucky to have him.” (London Free Press)
The Spirit leaned heavily on the Eric Locke-Garret Ross-Jimmy Locke line, who combined for 254 points in the regular season. Playing 1½ games might take more out of them than it does out of London's top-six forwards, although Max Domi seemed to be out for every second shift when the Knights were pressing for the tie.
Saginaw's 1st line of Lodge, Ross and Locke have been double-shifted for 3 periods now. Have to be dead tired. 15:40 left in 2OT.
— John Matisz (@Metro_JMatisz) March 24, 2013
Also, Paterson's countpart, Anthony Stolarz? He's pretty stoked about matching Paterson save-for-save. London would have lost if it had only had above-average goaltending.
Wow best hockey game I've been a part of. Back and forth action and double overtime thriller. Big win for the boys! We're doing it #Knights
— Anthony Stolarz (@AStolarz43) March 24, 2013
How did Dougie Hamilton factor into the game, even though he's no longer in the league? The Knights drew on the celly Hamilton performed after scoring the double-OT winner for the Niagara IceDogs in Game 1 of last season's OHL final.
The Knights lost that previous one on home ice when Niagara’s Dougie Hamilton, now with the Boston Bruins, scored and celebrated with a mid-ice somersault. “We didn’t want to see any more somersaults out there,” Knights forward Seth Griffith said with a grin.
The Knights won the next four games to take the J. Ross Robertson Cup.
Sudbury 5 Brampton 4 (series tied 1-1) — How would the potential absence of defenceman Jeff Corbett affect the Wolves? Sudbury pulled it out thanks to an early three-goal flurry and a Dominik Kubalik-Dominik Kahun passing play for the untying goal with 8:33 left. The win might be Pyrrhic. Corbett, the 18-year-old defenceman who's been effective but has missed nearly half the Wolves' games over the past two seasons, fell awkwardly into the boards in the first period and didn't return.
... the club's younger defencemen, such as Evan de Haan and Conor Cummins, responded to their greater workload after Jeff Corbett left the game following a hit by Brandon Robinson in the first period.
The status of Corbett, who has struggled with injuries the past two seasons, was unknown as of Sunday evening.
“If he's not available, that will hurt us,” [Wolves coach Trent] Cull said. “But maybe there will be an opportunity for others to step in.” (Sudbury Star)
Overage defenceman Charlie Dodero might also take on more shifts when the Sturgeon Stretch Series — so dubbed for the number of North Bay fans who will trek west along Hwy. 17 to support the uprooted Troops — resumes Tuesday.
Sudbury also got away with goalie Franky Palazzese (30 saves on 34 shots) being merely adequate.
Who was Stan Butler more irate toward after the Wolves scored three power-play goals in the first six minutes, refs Mike Cairns and Ryan Carroll, or his own sleepwalking team? The Battalion skipper made sure to earn his ejection 5:41 into the game after Sudbury's Nick Baptiste scored a 5-on-3 goal that opened the early 3-0 lead. If his post-game quotes — "We have created our own problems and now we have to go Sudbury and solve them" — are any indication, Butler was more chapped by his players.
It worked, though. Captain Barclay Goodrow scored a breakaway goal just 66 seconds after Butler showed himself out to get Brampton off the deck.
Mississauga 2 Belleville 1 (Bulls lead 2-1) — What was the smartest thing Steelheads coach-GM James Boyd did to motivate his young team after it went down 0-2? Boyd made the fightin' Fish stay on the bench and watch following games 1 and 2 when the victorious Bulls skated to centre ice to salute their fans.
Sunday, the Steelheads channeled that hurt into hunger and were able go toe-to-toe with a deeper team, aided by fourth-year goalie Tyson Teichmann kicking it up a notch. They managed to get two deflections past Boston Bruins first-rounder Malcolm Subban. That modicum of Mississauga offence was enough to ensure that at least it won't be a sweep.
"Those are the kinds of goals we have to score against Subban because he's obviously one of the best goalies in Canada," [Steelheads captain Stuart] Percy said. "You're not going to beat him straight up. Side-to-side, he's a monster and he made a killer save on me in the second period." (Mississauga News)
Keep an eye on how the Bulls respond in Game 3 on Tuesday. Incidentally, the Steelheads were the only lower seed to actual get a home date out of this weekend. The 2-2-1-1-1 format has not been received well, as Terry Doyle noted.
One of the big issues with the new format is the lower seed could go an entire series without a good home date. That could be a $$$$ killer.
— Loosepucks.com (@loosepucks) March 24, 2013
There is the "If you don't like the format, play better and get home ice." But heard from people whose team got home ice too.
— Loosepucks.com (@loosepucks) March 24, 2013
How does a team with the Bulls' quickness and skill go nearly 40 minutes before earning their first power play?
It's fair comment that after winning their first two games by an aggregate 12-2, the Bulls handled prosperity the way Jim Flaherty handles a surplus. They didn't really earn their chances, with coach-GM George Burnett telling the hometown Intelligencer his team "had some passengers and I thought Mississauga was better than us in the neutral zone."<
Oshawa 4 Niagara 3 (Generals lead 2-0) — How testy is this series? This much. The IceDogs didn't cotton to the Generals performing the 'skate to centre ice to salute the fans' ritual. You know, because the last thing you should want in hockey is to acknowledge the paying customers who help keep the league in business.
Members of both coaching staffs ended up on the ice to separate players at the end of Niagara/Oshawa game.
— Loosepucks.com (@loosepucks) March 25, 2013
How much optimism should Niagara have that it can force the series back to Oshawa for Game 5?
The IceDogs went down to the wire despite flu-ridden star Brett Ritchie sitting out, which reduced the effectiveness of playmaker Ryan Strome (no points, minus-2). The Generals are the deeper team, as evidenced by having won two games with captain Boone Jenner only putting up one assist, but Niagara is hanging in there. A nursed-back-to-health Ritchie would help.
— Boston Bruins prospect Anthony Camara, the rugged Barrie Colts wing, has earned a three-game suspension. Camara shot the puck out of play following a Kingston Frontenacs goal on Saturday during Game 2 of the teams' series.
— Day 5 docket: Barrie-Kingston, Game 3, 7 p.m.; Plymouth-Sarnia, Game 3, 7 p.m.; Owen Sound-Sault Ste. Marie, Game 3, 7:07 p.m. The visiting teams are up 2-0 in each series.
Neate Sager is a writer for Yahoo! Canada Sports. Follow him on Twitter @neatebuzzthenet. Please address any questions, comments or concerns to firstname.lastname@example.org.