Majors punch ticket to semifinal
RYAN PYETTE, QMI Agency
|Majors goaltender Mickael Audette is congradulated by teammates after defeating the Attack at the Hershey Centre in Mississauga, Ont., May 25, 2011. (JACK BOLAND/QMI Agency)
MISSISSAUGA, ONT. - No wonder Mississauga head coach and general manager Dave Cameron acquired Marc Cantin for his Memorial Cup host Majors this year.
The big, veteran defenceman is tiebreaker repellent.
This is Cantin’s third Cup and the former Windsor Spitfire and Belleville Bull has never had to dip his toe into the jellyfish-infested waters that is the tournament’s dreaded Thursday night extra game.
The Majors got another game-winner from Rob Flick Wednesday and rode a tight 3-1 victory over the snakebit Owen Sound Attack before 5,429 at the Hershey Centre Wednesday to advance straight to Friday’s semifinal.
“That tiebreaker can be deadly,” Cantin, the 21-year-old from Omemee, said. “Sure, we talked about it before the game. You want to avoid it at all costs.
“If you don’t, you‘re looking at three games in three nights and you’re facing a desperate team (Kootenay) in an elimination game. That’s tough. I think two straight days off here is too many and one is just right so we’ve set ourselves up pretty well the rest of the way.”
The Majors got a taste of revenge for their Game 7 OHL final overtime loss to Owen Sound.
“I don’t know how much of it was revenge,” Cantin said. “They won Game 7 win against us and they played well. We just wanted to make sure we got to the semi.
“We maybe got a small measure but we might have to face them again.”
The Attack had a bumpy ride against the Majors, including a frustrating parade to the sin bin.
The Attack haven’t gotten a break here all week. When it finally looked like there was one to jump on — Mississauga's Joe Cramarossa’s empty-net miss — the Attack turned it back up the ice and the their round-robin star Andrew Shaw was stoned by goalie J.P. Anderson.
“Oh my god, if Andy scored that one, we would’ve had a lot of energy heading into overtime,” said fellow forward Robby Mignardi, speaking for Shaw as the Belleville native was busy getting treatment to join a long list of banged-up Attack centres. “It didn’t happen. It’s not going to be easy but we’ve faced an uphill battle all season.
“Nothing’s going to change. We just need more guys to step up.”
Every team but Owen Sound has benefited from some whacky business at this Cup.
The final-bound Saint John Sea Dogs are the rabbit-foot ringleaders. They won their opener on a missed offside call and didn’t have to face injured Attack star Joey Hishon.
The Majors beat Kootenay while Ice captain Brayden McNabb was suspended.
The Ice are alive because Matt Fraser scored an overtime winner that was offside.
“I believe you have to make your own luck,” Mignardi said. “If you work hard, things are going to go your way. We fought back down 2-0 in the OHL final. This is just one more thing.”
The closest they got to an actual break was when Majors’ Devante Smith-Pelly’s Pele impression goal was disallowed.
“I tried to head-butt it into the net,” the Anaheim pick said. “It looked like it hit my head but it actually missed and caught my chest and in. It didn’t count and it had no outcome on the game.”
Flick won it on a 5-on-3 advantage late in the second period after the feisty Shaw took out Majors captain Casey Cizikas’ legs and linemate Michael Halmo knocked over Anderson as he raced to the bench for the extra attacker.
“I thought I could catch their goalie (Jordan Binnington) leaning,” the London native said. “I wanted to get a shot there. I don’t think we’re in a power-play slump (3-for-21 so far) but we haven’t been getting enough pucks to the net.”
And when it went in, Cantin and Co. danced past the tiebreaker once more and forced Owen Sound to run the Cup gauntlet.