The Owen Sound Attack didn’t help themselves much, and ended up on the losing end of an ugly affair against the Mississauga-St. Michael’s Majors. It was the rematch of the OHL Championship series, but the game played closer to exhibition hockey.
The first two periods were marred by a parade to the penalty box, a sequence that saw Mississauga to the man advantage nine times to Owen Sound’s two. WHL and QMJHL referees Matt Kirk and Dominick Bedard seemed intent on allowing the chippy stuff to go, but punished the retaliatory action, leaving players, mostly on the Attack, confused as to what the limits of the game were. Jamie Wise, after a vicious hit from behind on Geoffrey Schemitsch, was led to the penalty box by the linesman but was removed after the referees deemed his hit driving the head of the Owen Sound player in the boards was legal. After the struggle, it was a 2-1 hockey game, made 3-1 on a Justin Shugg empty net goal, which proved to be the final.
The game did not see a clean stretch of 5-on-5 play until the third period, afterwards it was too late for the game to develop energy. There was more energy among the Attack and Majors fans who charged out into the pouring rain outside the Hershey Centre, with chants of “See You Friday!” and “Go Ice Go!” respectively.
The teams struggled through the final 20, which just 12 scoring chances on either side. The game was pulled of its lone notable moment when a goal was disallowed on Majors forward Devante Smith-Pelley, who tried to knock a puck in with his head after it ricocheted off the glass, one day after Sea Dogs forward Tomas Jurco had the tying goal go off his helmet with 15 seconds to go in the game.
“[Jurco]’s goal was kind of an accident. This one was me trying to throw my head towards it but it ended up not even hitting my head,” said Smith-Pelley, post-game. The goal was waved off because a puck can not be directed in with any part of the body, though Smith-Pelley contends that he missed it with his head and it bounced in off of his chest. The overhead replay failed to confirm this argument. “I’ve forgotten about it already,” said the smiling player, happy with his team’s win and his day off.
Owen Sound will have to fight in a tiebreaker game against Kootenay. “It is what it is, and we’ll have to move on from it,” said Attack defenseman Jesse Blacker, who said his team took too many bad penalties. Blacker was flagged for a retaliatory penalty in the second period. “You know, I’m a leader and I can’t do that.” Blacker smiled but didn’t comment on the Wednesday game theoretically being Game Eight of the series between themselves and Mississauga (their OHL Championship series ended in a Game 7 overtime). There is a prospect of a Game Nine being played should the Attack win their tiebreaker game. Owen Sound would likely play that game without Joey Hishon, who missed Wednesday’s game with a concussion, and Garrett Wilson, who left Wednesday’s game with an apparent shoulder injury.
To his credit, Owen Sound head coach Mark Reeds was very calm in the post-game press conference. “A very poor choice of penalty to make it a 5-on-3,” said Reeds, on Mike Halmo’s decision to run Majors goaltender JP Anderson as he left the net for an extra man with a delayed penalty called. The two-man advantage led to the eventual game-winning goal by Rob Flick, his second in as many games. Andrew Shaw scored off a weird bounce for Owen Sound, and Jordan Mayer opened the scoring for the Majors.
All in all, it has to be disappointing for Mississauga, who played a very good game defensively but didn’t get a chance to play much on 5-on-5, which is similar to their game against Kootenay. Cameron did not admit that the lack of 5-on-5 play would hurt his team as we head into the elimination stage. “You play the hand you’re dealt,” he said.
1: JP Anderson, MISS
2: Michael D’Orazio, MISS
3: Jordan Mayer, MISS