A controversial no-goal on a day when scoring was scarce in London, the Owen Sound Attack wresting home-ice advantage from Plymouth and the Barrie Colts placing their boots across the Oshawa Generals throat highlight a full Sunday. On with the post-game questions:
London 2 Kitchener 0 (Knights lead 2-0) — Well, was the puck in? In the second period, Knights 'tender Anthony Stolarz (34 saves for his first OHL playoff shutout) appeared to rob the Rangers' Matt Puempel. There was no video review, but there probably should have been just to eliminate the shades of grey.
From Ryan Pyette:
Several photographs suggested the puck crossed the line.
Kitchener GM and head coach Steve Spott believes it warranted, at the very least, a video review. The still pictures and a call from his people upstairs told him it was a good goal.
“I still don’t understand it,” he said. “At the end of the day, it’s definitely an error by the officials on the ice. When you have a situation like that, you have to go upstairs just because these games are too critical. In my mind, you have to have the best officials on the ice and they have to understand any time something is close, go upstairs just to eliminate any risk. There’s no hurry, and ultimately, why we didn’t go upstairs, I don’t know.
“They said they went in after the goal. It’s too late. It’s frustrating because that could’ve been a huge turning point in what’s really a 1-0 game.”
Spott had his timeout available, but chose not to use it. He would love if coaches had the opportunity to throw an NFL-style flag onto the ice for this kind of situation.
“I’d like to throw a few things right now,” he quipped. “The officials’ job on and off the ice is any time there’s something close like that, a horn should blow and they should review it. Ultimately, that did not happen.” (London Free Press)
What makes this Rangers loss sting that much more? Kitchener actually enjoyed a rare edge on the shot counter (34-30, likely thanks to a 7-3 edge in power plays earned/received) and could not beat Stolarz. With the 2-2-1-1-1 format, it's essential to get that minimum one road victory in one of the first two games.
Owen Sound 3 Plymouth 1 (tied 1-1) — Who knew? Plymouth is human? The Whalers, whose 13-game losing skid was snapped by the Attack, one of the league's best road teams, controlled the early stages of the contest. It just did not get any reward beyond its singleton by Ryan Hartman; as Attack coach Greg Ireland put it, "We gave up three really good scoring chances so we have to be better."
That helped the Attack turn it into their kind of puck-possession game, with Daniel Catenacci's faceoff proficiency helping them win the day. They also made their own luck. Holden Cook's winning goal came at the end of a 3-on-2 that formed after Cook got away with a possible trip in the Attack zone; Ottawa Senators first-rounder Cody Ceci's patience with the puck was also critical on that play.
How will 17-year-old Whalers goalie Alex Nedeljkovic respond in Game 3 after his first playoff loss? The only people who can credibly answer that are in the Whalers room, but it's worth mentioning it in order to set up the Game 3 storyline. Wins and losses are the worst way to evaluate goalies, but Sunday was the first time Nedeljkovic started and finished a Whalers regulation-time losses. His only two L's during his 19-2-1-1 regular season came in relief appearances. The Parma, Ont., puckstopper has not had to go through a lot ups and downs. Neither of the Attack's third-period goals were on the goalie, since Cook finished off a 3-on-2 with a good shot and Kurtis Gabriel (1G-1A, +2, fighting major) completed a short-handed rush. Nedeljkovic actually stopped a 3-on-0 rush minutes before the Attack broke the deadlock.
Barrie 4 Oshawa 0 (Colts lead 3-0) What happens when you play rough with Mark Scheifele? The frustrated Generals were already trailing 1-0 in the first period when centre Cole Cassels crunched Scheifele into the boards. Scheifele got his payback on the scoreboard.
From Stephen Sweet:
On a delayed penalty against Barrie, Scheifele was lined up on the boards to touch the puck when Cassels came in and ran him from behind.
A fight ensued between [Barrie's] Anthony Camara and [Oshawa's] Josh Brown as Scheifele lay on the ice. He had to be helped off by a trainer, but would return before the period was out.
The Colts killed off a penalty to [Aaron] Ekblad and had just begun a power play of their own as Scheifele left his zone, getting past a pair of Generals while his teammate left the box.
Scheifele looked up and found Ekblad in behind the defender, and last season’s rookie of the year broke in alone before beating [goalie Daniel] Altshuller high, giving Barrie a 2-0 lead after one period. (Barrie Examiner)
It was not all cupcakes and sprinkles for the Colts. Rugged left wing Mitchell Theoret, who's best one of their best contributors in the playoffs, left with an apparent shoulder injury in the first period.
How have the Colts handled the absence of suspended captain Ryan O'Connor compared to how the Generals fared Sunday without suspended centre Scott Laughton? Ekblad is having a splendid series while picking up top-pairing minutes; the goal that the 17-year-old scored on an out-of-the-penalty-box breakaway hardly came in a vacuum. O'Connor's replacement on the first unit power play, forward Steven Beyers, also potted the opening goal.
Oshawa, which does not know yet how long Laughton will sit for a checking-from-behind major/game misconduct in Game 2, had a bad break in the first two minutes. A quick whistle during a goalmouth scramble likely cost it a goal. Teams either push through that or the angst mounts.
Belleville 4 Sudbury 1, ENG (Bulls lead 2-0) — What hope is there that the Wolves can force the series back to Belleville? The possibility of Sudbury, which fell behind three-zip in the opening 20 minutes, bouncing back should be kept open since the series is shifting to a standardized 200-by-85 surface for the next two games. But Belleville played a very assured game, focusing only shutting down the Wolves once it had built a comfortable lead. A tight-checking team with Malcolm Subban in goal isn't going to cough up three-goal leads very often. Subban faced only 18 shots.
The Bulls' Garrett Hooey-Carter Sandlak-Austen Brassard line has been crucial so far in the playoff run. It has some size. One concern for Belleville is left wing Scott Simmonds, the worker bee on its first line, came out after catching a stick in the face in the third period. That could force some line adjustments if he's kept out of Game 3 on Thursday.
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.
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