MISSISSAUGA - Hockey teams don’t win championships without depth.
But expecting the Owen Sound Attack to continue competing in the 2011 Memorial Cup after the tiebreaker on Thursday night might be asking for too much.
Attack captain Garrett Wilson left after the first period of a 3-1 loss to the Mississauga St. Michael’s Majors with a head injury on Wednesday night and it does not appear that star Joey Hishon will be in the lineup against the Kootenay Ice on Thursday.
“Truthfully, (Hishon) is sitting in the dark in his room,” Attack coach Mark Reeds said. “That doesn’t bode well for him.
“As far as Garrett goes, when an athlete starts asking the same question over and over again, that’s room to have concern. It’s an unfortunate part of the sport, and it is something you have to deal with.”
Wilson was checked by Majors forward Chris DeSousa. Hishon has missed two games after he was elbowed in the head by Ice captain Brayden McNabb. It sounds like medical miracle would be needed for either player to skate against the Ice with the Attack’s Cup hopes on the line.
So Reeds will look to young forwards such as Gemel Smith, Jarrod Maidens and Andrew Fritsch to handle an increased workload and produce.
“It’s an opportunity for them,” Reeds said. “If you want to be a hockey player, and a couple of players are out of your lineup, it’s an unbelievable opportunity to show what you are made of.”
The outlook is not good for either the Attack or the Ice no matter who is playing. Of the eight previous tiebreakers, only one winner, the 2009 Windsor Spitfires, won the Cup.
The nastiness that grew between the Attack and the Majors during their seven-game OHL final was clear. There were enough after-whistle scrums Wednesday that would have looked good in a rugby game, but the best hit was one that wasn’t. The Majors’ Joseph Cramarossa took a big run at an Attack player in the first period, but missed badly and sent himself flying backward into the Mississauga bench. St. Mike’s captain Casey Cizikas acknowledged there was “hate” for Owen Sound, but added that losing in the OHL final couldn’t have a negative impact ... It doesn’t make sense, so that must mean the New York Islanders are involved. The Isles have not yet signed Cizikas, who they drafted in 2009. One of the better two-way junior players in the country, Cizikas will be eligible for the 2011 draft if he is not signed by June 1. “Not too sure,” Cizikas said when asked why he is without a deal. “It would be nice to sign, but right now the No. 1 goal is to win the Memorial Cup.” ... Neither the Majors nor the Attack were too bent out of shape that their game actually meant something and that the loser would have to play in the tiebreaker. Had the Ice lost to the Saint John Sea Dogs on Tuesday night, it would have finished 0-3 and been done. “They were not just going to go away,” Attack coach Mark Reeds said. “They gave themselves another day.” ... The Majors thought they increased their lead to 2-0 with less than two minutes left in the first period. But after a review, Devante Smith-Pelly was judged to have directed the puck behind Jordan Binnington. Smith-Pelly said the puck went in off his chest, not his head ... It’s often the second assists that have the most bearing on a goal. That happened on the Attack’s goal, when defenceman Matt Stanisz raced to the boards to keep the puck in the Mississauga end. A few seconds later, Andrew Shaw beat J.P. Anderson from in close. Shaw has been one of Owen Sound’s best forwards in the tournament.
From the hash marks
Binnington, who won’t turn 18 until July 11, might have played himself into the first round of the National Hockey League entry draft in June, even if the Attack doesn’t win the Cup. Draft-eligible players often are hit and miss at the Memorial Cup, but when a guy like Binnington is as good as he has been, scouts will take that back to their final draft meetings. A glove save on Cizikas during a Majors odd-man rush in the second period was among his best. Part of Binnington’s mask has the depiction of a brick wall painted on it ... The Attack players will have to do a better job of keeping their emotions under wraps against Kootenay. Shaw belted Cizikas with a low-bridge hit and was called for interference late in the second period. As Anderson skated to the bench for the extra skater, he was slammed to the ice by Mike Halmo, who was assessed another penalty ... Anderson quietly has been getting it done for the Attack. His spectacular left pad save on Shaw in the final minute, which came after Cramarossa missed an open net, kept the Majors ahead, and Justin Shugg scored into an empty net soon after ... TSN reported that Don Hay will coach Canada’s junior team next winter.