The home team locked up, played strong defensive hockey, and eliminated the Kootenay Ice Friday night at the Hershey Centre with a 3-2 win. Dave Cameron, the Mississauga head coach, the master of spin, again called it a “well-played hockey game” as his team advanced to play Saint John on Sunday.
The Majors, who have spent the bulk of the tournament keeping scoring chances off the ice for both sides, played the style effectively tonight, limiting Kootenay to just seven chances all game, and just a single one at even strength. The top line for Kootenay, Matt Fraser, Cody Eakin and Max Reinhart, who had been dominant offensively for Kootenay in the last two games were held off the scoreboard and the three combined for only one powerplay assist, which came as a second period buzzer beater.
While Mississauga-St. Michael’s nursed a one-goal lead through the third period, there was never any sense of pushback for the Ice, who, despite winning their last two games to stay alive in the tournament after an 0-2 start, are eliminated from contention at the MasterCard Memorial Cup. “Builds you as a person,” said Fraser with a shrug. “Builds you as a person and as a hockey player.” “We were looking forward to the finals,” said Reinhart. Goaltender Nathan Lieuwen, who stopped 23 of 25, was holding back tears in the post-game scrum.
Devonte Smith-Pelley had the two regulation goals for the Majors, and Rob Flick scored into the empty net to seal it. Mississauga not only had a textbook game on the ice, but off it, as well. Speaking to reporters, Majors forward Casey Cizikas spoke clichés at an impressive rate of 4.2 per sentence.
“We got our game back. We got back to getting pucks deep, we got back to taking the body, we’re moving our feet, we’re taking short shifts, and, you know, there’s a good feeling in the room right now.”
“[The OHL Championship series] was definitely hard the way it ended, but we’re not thinking about that right now. We’ve got one thing on our mind and that’s to win a Memorial Cup. I think everyone has confidence right now.”
“In the Owen Sound series, we were hitting posts, we weren’t burying our chances, and right now guys are feeling good about themselves. They’re getting pucks deep, they’re getting the chances and we’re finally burying them.”
“[Kootenay’s] a good team. They’ve definitely proved it so far, going 2-0 and deserving a spot in the semi-finals today. They played a great game, and we just limited their chances and we shut down their powerplay, which I think was first in the tournament so far.”
“[The Final] has gone through my head a lot, it’s an unbelieveable feeling. We’ve got a chance to win a Memorial Cup right now and we’ve just got to do it as a team.”