May 06, 2011
In winning in overtime on Majors ice, the Owen Sound turned the form inside out. How many visiting teams ever win at the Hershey Centre being outshot by 10 and having fewer power plays? Sunday will show if it was a bona fide sea change or just a one-off coming in second of back-to-back games.
Owen Sound 6, Mississauga 5, overtime (Majors lead OHL final 2-1) — Have the Attack found Mississauga's Achilles heel? With no practice in between games, Mississauga was caught flat-footed at least three times on stretch passes for breakaways, two of which Andrew Shaw (two goals) and Robby Mignardi (team-high 13th) finished for breakaways. Matt Petgrave (pictured) scored the winner on the first shot of overtime on a slap shot off the rush, so Owen Sound's speed trumped Mississauga's grim workmanship for one night.
"You have to execute to be successful," Owen Sound head coach Mark Reeds said during his team's short press conference. "I think you asked the question yesterday [after Game 2] what we need to and we have to distribute the puck better through the neutral zone and get it in deep. I don't think we were very effective in that during the second period of the first two games and it paid off for us tonight.
We're sitting there, 2-0 deficit and if we don't respond with the game we're capable of playing, it was going to be a much more uphill climb," Reeds added. "We knew we had to get more aggressive on the forecheck and get in and create something and it was much more effective tonight."
Still, this was also about Anderson, the San Jose Sharks prospect who allowed six goals on 27 shots, having his worst night since an 8-2 loss to Oshawa in mid-February. Petgrave's decider and a second-period Mike Halmo marker where he tossed a backhand on the net were both of mulligan-worthy. So maybe there's no reason for the Majors to have any doubts.
"We don't need to send a message to them," said Majors defenceman Brett Flemming, whose early third-period goal led to Mississauga forcing overtime on a Devante Smith-Pelly goal that was upheld by a video review.
"I think we're a pretty good team. It's just that in the third period we showed what we're capable of."
The Majors allowed six goals in a game only four times in the regular season. For what it is worth, they won the next time out each time, twice by shutout and the other wins were over strong teams, Kitchener and Niagara. There's reason to think they would return to form Sunday.
Will Reeds make yet another goaltending change for Game 4? The coach of the year turned to goalie Michael Zador, whose last start came in the second-round opener vs. Plymouth, with Scott Stajcer not even dressed. Zador stopped 32-of-37 shots after allowing three first-period goals, but waited out Mika Partanen on a third-period breakaway to preserve a tie through 60 minutes.
"What can I tell you? Sometimes you make hard decisions and it worked in my favour," Reeds said.
It is plausible to think Reed could have treated three-games-in-four-nights stretch the same way most coaches would in the regular season, not expecting one goalie to carry the whole load. And playing behind an Owen Sound defence that can be high-risk, high-reward against the Majors can be taxing on a goalie.
How dangerous would the Attack be if they could reduce the penalties? Mississauga is merely 8-for-18 on the power play. If you told people ahead of time the Majors would be clicking at that rate after three games, most would have guessed the series would be 3-0. No wonder Reeds was relieved just to have a helter-skelter game finished.
"You're always happy when you win, you have to be," he said. "We had a good first period. It was the best second period that we've had [after being outscored a combined 5-0 in the second periods of Games 1 and 2] But you have to give them credit. They came back a couple times against Sudbury [in Round 2] against Niagara when it was a 2-1 [deficit] late in the third period. So that's always in the back of your mind."
Sunday's Game 4 — At Owen Sound, 4:30 p.m. ET (Rogers Sportsnet).
Neate Sager is a writer for Yahoo! Canada Sports. Contact him at firstname.lastname@example.org and follow him on Twitter @neatebuzzthenet (photo: OHL Images).