By Mike Koreen/The Whig-Standard
Posted 15 hours ago
Kingston Kimco Voyageurs coach Colin Birkas thought his team might have delivered its best effort of the playoffs on Friday night.
Problem is it wasn't good enough to win.
The Vees are one loss away from elimination after falling 3-0 in Wellington against the Dukes in Game 3 of their Ontario Junior Hockey League East Division quarterfinal.
The Vees, who trail the best-of-five series 2-1, need to win on Sunday (opening faceoff at 2 p.m.) at the Invista Centre to force a return trip to Wellington on Monday night.
We've played well enough to win all three games, Birkas said, but we've only won one of them.
One night after Vees goalie Charlie Finn notched a shutout, Dukes counterpart Tyler Marble put up his own zero. He stopped 30 shots for the goose-egg.
Once in a while, a goalie steals a game and there is no shame in that, Birkas said. We did everything we wanted to do except score goals. When we did get the bounces, their goalie was there to make the stops.
Josh Gervais opened the scoring with less than three minutes left in the second period.
It stayed 1-0 until there were less than two minutes left in the third. With Kingston's Greg Trichilo in the box for head contact, Dukes star Darcy Murphy scored his second of the series to seal it before 780 happy fans.
Ryan Donohoe added an empty netter for the defending champs.
Kingston went 0-for-5 on the power play and is now 0-for-13 for the series with the man advantage. That probably will have to change for Kingston to force a fifth game.
Vees star Steve McParland also has been held without a goal through three games.
Birkas remains confident that his team can win if it keeps up its good work.
We're not going to change things, he said. We're just going to keep going and see what happens.
Finn made 32 stops for Kingston. He's allowed five goals in three games. Marble has given up just three in a very defensive series.
The Dukes entered the series as a significant favourite after finishing 22 points ahead of Kingston in the standings. However, the Vees did win four of six against the Dukes this year and aren't giving Wellington an easy time in the opening-round series.
Meanwhile, the Whitby Fury completed a sweep of the Lindsay Muskies in the other East quarterfinal. The Fury won 2-1 in Game 3 on Friday night.
When Darcy Murphy stuck his extended stick out to deflect the Dukes 2nd goal in the dying minutes, it was the game's crucial insurance.
Many Kingston fans thought it was flukey but when a 52 regular season goal scorer scores it, it's no accident. The goal came off an Elliot Richardson point shot with Murphy camped out in his favourite spot on the powerplay. Just off to the right of the Vees goaltender in close. Richardson or Pratt fires it in looking like a wide shot much like Detroit's Nik Lidstrom does. Murphy, with that quick hand eye coordination, changes its' direction and puts it past an unsuspecting goaltender. Finn had zero chance of it.
It came on the powerplay at 18:53 with Greg Trichilo off at 17.59 on a minor and major to close the game.
It also didn't allow the Vees the benefit of getting their keeper out over the last minute for a chance to send it to overtime tied at one. It was a death knell for the Vees.
The Dukes outshot their opponents in two of the three periods in this one.
Since that beautiful first game Vees' performance in which they held Wellington to just 27, the Vees have not been as successful at limiting the open ice to the Dukes.
The Vees have not had the same kind of success they had in that first game in which they lost playing the game on the boards in all three zones of the ice. It's a usual good recipe to limit good skating open ice teams' chances to score like the Dukes are.
It's no secret the Dukes put everything to the net and go in for the garbage is any is laying around. It's a huge part of their success. Their first goal was one of that nature. It was thrown at the net from a sharp angle in which Finn wasn't square to the puck and it trickled in.
Richardson and Pratt have done a sterling job on Vees' most dangerous snipers McParland, Wilhelm and Trichilo. The trio has just a goal between them and it was an empty netter in the 2nd game.
They are going to either have to do a better job of isolating them from Richardson and Pratt or they are going to have to produce in spite of them if the Vees want to get this series to game five.
One way to do it? Split them up. All three.
They'll have the last change in game four at home.