May 22, 2011
Majorsâ€™ Flick the game-winning hero
By Terry Koshan, Toronto Sun
Just like that, the St. Michael’s Majors shoved a potentially difficult situation to the curb.
And they can thank veteran centre Rob Flick for allowing them to keep their heads above water at the 2011 Memorial Cup.
The Chicago Blackhawks prospect scored the winning goal at 11:51 of the third period, steaming around defenceman Hayden Rintoul and beating goalie Nathan Lieuwen with a shot along the ice to give the Majors a 2-1 victory.
The Ice have lost both of their first two games and are in big trouble. Just once in Cup history has a team rebounded from a 0-2 start and gone on to win the title. That was two years ago in Rimouski, when the Windsor Spitfires turned the feat.
Before an announced crowd of 5,429 at the Hershey Centre, Flick drove to the net on the Majors’ first goal, enabling Maxim Kitsyn to stuff a loose puck behind Lieuwen.
Majors goalie J.P. Anderson had as much of an influence on the victory as Flick. He was sharp, and made a game-saving stop late in the third when he kicked out a Luke Paulsen shot from the point. Earlier, Anderson stuffed Jesse Ismond on a wraparound.
The Majors (1-1) will avoid becoming the first host team since the Quebec Remparts in 2003 to go 0-3 in the Memorial Cup.
Majors coach Dave Cameron said the day before that he was rather sure his team had not lost its focus despite tying a season-high three-game losing streak. Turns out Cameron was right.
The Majors couldn’t get much going with a man-advantage and shot themselves in the foot in the second period. Not long after they started a two-man advantage that could have lasted for one minute 17 seconds, Devante Smith-Pelly was whistled for interference. It was a dumb penalty, taken in front the Kootenay net, and took the wind out of the power-play sails ... Cody Eakin continued to remind people why he was one of Canada’s effective two-way forwards at the world junior this past winter in Buffalo. The Washington Capitals prospect scored a pretty goal, using a Majors defenceman as a screen in the first period, and had a handful of other good chances. Plus, he is the first over the boards when the Ice kill a penalty and he is smart, which can’t be taught. The Majors’ Casey Cizikas, who helped Eakin kill penalties in Buffalo, said on Saturday that because of competitive reasons, he didn’t want to be Eakin’s pal during the Memorial Cup. Not hard to see why ... Is there any way for the fans of the Owen Sound Attack to just be at every game and cheer no matter who scores? This was one of those sit-on-your-hands games, devoid of emotion. Felt more like a neutral zone game. Hershey Centre nearly was full, but rocking? Not even close. When the Attack and Majors meet on Wednesday night, it will sound like a home game for Owen Sound, guaranteed. Come on, fans, do you really need to be asked to cheer by a dopey message on the scoreboard? ... We would be remiss if we did not acknowledge that the game as a whole was a bore. The Ice dump, but don’t always chase, and the Majors like to throw a spike strip through the neutral zone, making for a sleepy game that had little action.
Kootenay captain Brayden McNabb served his one-game suspension for planting an elbow in the face of Owen Sound’s Joey Hishon on Saturday night and was replaced by John Neibrandt. Ice coach Kris Knoblauch’s argument — which he repeated on Sunday after putting it forth on Saturday — that the elbow happened because the 6-foot-4 McNabb had a big height advantage over the 5-foot-10 Hishon is a garbage claim. McNabb shouldn’t have done what he did, size difference or not. Funny thing is, the Ice didn’t really miss the defenceman, who was cut at Canada’s world junior selection camp ... The Saint John Sea Dogs spent Saturday afternoon at the Rogers Centre, watching the Blue Jays come from behind to beat the Houston Astros. But their timing was off when they got up to leave. “We left right before (Jose) Bautista hit his second homer, so that kind of stung,” Sea Dogs forward Zack Phillips said. “It was a great experience. (Edmonton Oilers rookie) Taylor Hall sat a couple of rows in front of us, but we did not want to go and bother him.” ... We made a Major mistake in a story on St. Mike’s in Sunday’s newspaper and on-line editions. Defenceman Marc Cantin isn’t trying to win a third consecutive Memorial Cup. He won last year with Windsor and played in the Cup in 2008 as a member of the Belleville Bulls ... Montreal Canadiens defenceman P.K. Subban was shown in attendance on the centre-ice videoboard during the second period. There were a few cheers and some boos, but mostly indifference.