If Greg Gilbert wants to inspire his disinterested hockey club he might want to show his players game tape of St. Michael's Majors forward Darryl Boyce.
Gilbert, the coach of the Mississauga IceDogs, has to do something, anything, to get his team on track as it teeters on elimination from the Ontario Hockey League playoffs.
Boyce was superb last night, scoring the winning goal and pasting every IceDogs sweater he saw as the Majors beat the IceDogs 3-1 before a boisterous crowd of 1,515 at St. Michael's Arena.
The eighth seed in the Eastern Conference entering the playoffs, the Majors have a 3-1 lead on the No. 1 IceDogs in the best-of-seven quarter-final and can complete a big upset with a victory Sunday afternoon at the Hershey Centre.
Gilbert nailed overage forward John Hecimovic to the bench for parts of the game last night and could easily have done the same with his biggest gun, captain Patrick O'Sullivan, who has supplied just four assists in the series.
"There was no urgency, no desire to battle back into the series," a disappointed Gilbert, whose trademark during his playing days in the NHL was hard work, said. "It's almost like, 'Let's throw in the towel and move on.' We've dug ourselves a hole.
"It does not matter if they stick somebody on you to pester you, you have to find a way around it. That's what a hockey player is, you have to find a way to succeed."
Gilbert, who also said Hecimovic "looks lost out there" could have been talking about O'Sullivan but was referring to his players in general. It didn't help that the Majors' quick forecheck at home, where the ice surface is just 180 feet long and 80 feet wide, is causing big problems for the IceDogs.
As for Boyce, he was everything Gilbert wants his players to be. An overager who is fully aware his OHL career is nearly done, Boyce is taking nothing for granted. Boyce scored the winner at 8:54 of the second period when he took a beautiful pass from Ryan Wilson, held off IceDogs defenceman David Pszenyczny and beat goalie Michael Ouzas.
"We have nothing to lose in this series," Boyce said. "Coming into it we took it as we had four games left. All the pressure was on them to sweep us in four. This is my last year and I am hoping to take this team as far as I can."
Justin Peters was excellent again for the Majors, stopping 38 shots. Jeff Larsh and Tyler Haskins also scored for St. Mike's, which became the first team to win at home in the series. Anthony Butera scored for Mississauga.
"It would have been a travesty if we had won the game," IceDogs owner/general manager Mario Forgione said. "They out-worked us and out-hustled us, and did what we should have done."