In the end, Hunters' gutsy move didn't pay off

MORRIS DALLA COSTA, SUN MEDIA

, Last Updated: 9:08 AM ET

There is one thing the Hunter boys aren't short of and that's guts.

Mark and Dale Hunter, along with the rest of their coaching staff, made a decision that not many other coaches would have.

Fourth game of the Ontario Hockey League's Western Conference final against the Windsor Spitfires, down 2-1 and needing to win, they pulled the goaltender who was supposed to put them over the top and replaced him with a junior B netminder.

Trevor Cann has struggled during these playoffs and his poor performance in Game 3 tipped the team over the edge.

The Knights went to Daryl Borden, the guy who led Brantford to the Sutherland Cup final.

In the end, they rolled the dice without luck.

Another game, another overtime, another overtime loss, another weird and somewhat weak goal.

The Spitfires scored 59 seconds into overtime defeating the Knights 5-4 to take a 3-1 lead in the best-of-seven series.

Andrei Loktionov's shot from the sideboards found its way between Borden's pads after dinging off a shinpad.

It was an anti-climactic ending for a game that saw the Knights come back from a three-goal third-period deficit that sent the JLC into delirium.

The game followed the pattern of the other three, a quiet first two periods and an insane third.

Shock seemed to be the operative word around the John Labatt Centre when news filtered down that they tied the can to Cann, at least for this game, and were going with Borden.

Borden was one of the other guys who came to the Knights in the John Tavares deal. It would've been ironic if Borden actually wound up being the piece to the puzzle that got the Knights past this round.

That storyline didn't happen last night.

"It's hard because I really wanted to come in here and help this team win," Borden said. "I was playing with Brantford every second night, but when I could, I'd flip on the TV and watch the guys. I just wished for a different result."

Starting Borden was a stunning decision.

"It's a risk, but we've been known to take risks," Knights general manager and assistant coach Mark Hunter said. "It's scary, but life is scary."

If Borden got swamped, the decision gets criticized. If he played great, then the coaching staff and the decision is considered genius.

"None of us got much sleep contemplating what we should do," Curcio said before the game. "But we had to do something. Sometimes it's so mental for a goaltender that a break is all you need. You saw Trevor last January. He got a break and bounced back and played phenomenal. Hopefully, Darryl can do a really great job for us and we can come back with Trevor."

Even though Borden is an experienced OHL goaltender, dropping him into the cauldron that has been the London/Windsor series, is not like starting him in a regular-season game.

This series has had some seriously emotional peaks and valleys. Goaltending by both teams has been at the focus of the emotion.

Borden did as well as expected considering the situation. The Knights were hoping for a bolt of lightning, a fairy tale ending.

They didn't get it.

Would Cann have been any better? Who knows?

What we know is the Knights have played well enough in this series to be better than 3-1 down and their biggest issue has been bad goals.

There was no guarantee it was going to get any better.

Cann would have been the safe choice as a starter. Yes, he's been shaky. But he also has the experience of playing in pressure games.

But safe hasn't gotten the Knights or the Hunters where they are now.

Making tough decisions and living with the consequences is why coaches and managers do what they do for a living.

The Hunters also own the team, but even as owners, decision like this aren't made lightly.

There will be much debate about the direction they took.

Give me someone who is willing to take a risk and live with the consequences rather than someone who will go down passively and then wonder all summer if anything else could have been done.


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