The Dunny’s Sports Additional-Entry Atoms have forced a fifth and deciding game with the Lincoln Blades in their OMHA semi-final playoff series.
On Sunday afternoon at the Pyramid Rec. Centre, a pair of goals by Owen Boyd--including the winner--lifted Matt King’s squad to a hard-fought 4-3 win over the Blades.
It tied the best-of-five series 2-2, and sets the stage for Game 5 this Saturday in Lincoln at 4:10 p.m. If the series goes to a sixth game, it would be played the following day in St. Marys at 1:15 p.m.
Determined effort Sunday
In Game 4 Sunday, the Dunny’s Atoms used a determined effort to stay alive in the series, which features two evenly-match squads.
“To use a cliché, we found a way to win today,” coach King said. “We put pressure on them, and were able to put the puck in deep. And credit to our guys, we worked hard.
“A couple of their guys (No. 15 and 18) take advantage of the big ice, especially down in Lincoln. We tried to minimize their chances today.”
King says Blades are one of the best teams his club has played all season. “They’re a solid club, as a solid all the way through as any team we’ve played,” he pointed out.
The Rock took the play to the Blades early. At the 6:22 mark of the first period, Owen Boyd stole the puck and scored a nifty goal on a breakaway. Lucas McCurdy assisted.
Lincoln tied it with just 1:13 remaining in the period. Then with just one second left on the clock, McCurdy scored a wrap-around goal to put St. Marys back in front. Nathan Switzer assisted.
The tight-checking hockey continued in the second period, and both goaltenders took turns coming up big. The Rock’s Will Galloway made a breakaway stop, and the Lincoln netminder made a couple of key saves during a St. Marys powerplay.
Blades tied it 2-2 at the 10:21 mark, taking advantage of a favourable bounce off the end boards during a powerplay.
In the final minute of the period, defenceman Jeremy Stephens made a nice solo rush and put the Dunny’s crew back in front to stay on a powerplay.
Midway through the third, Boyd fired the winner after taking a nice pass from McCurdy on a 2-on-1 break. Galloway then made several nice glove saves to keep the Rock ahead by two.
Lincoln pulled to within a goal (on a powerplay) with 2:18 remaining, but the visitors hurt their comeback chances by taking a cross-checking penalty with 56 seconds left on the clock.
There were a total of 15 minor penalties, some questionable, called in Sunday’s Game 4.
What is the key for his team going into Game 5 this Saturday in Lincoln, King was asked.
“We have to limit their ability to skate on that big ice surface,” the coach explained. “We have to push the puck in deep in their end, and keep the pressure on them. And we have to make sure we always have back-checkers.”
Game 3 Saturday
In the pivotal third game Saturday afternoon in Lincoln, the Dunny’s Atoms dropped a 4-1 decision to the home-town Blades.
It was the Rock’s second consecutive loss on Lincoln ice, and left St. Marys trailing 2-1 in the series.
The teams were tied 1-1 after the first period, with Owen Boyd scoring for the Dunny’s squad. It was still deadlocked 1-1 going into the third.
“We played pretty well,” Rock assistant coach Chris Boyd reported. “In the third period, we started watching them skate around a little too much.
“Hopefully we can win (Game 4 Sunday) and go back down there (this) weekend,” he added.
Both Kiefer MacNeil and Will Galloway saw action in the St. Marys net.
It was only the A-E Atoms’ third loss in the OMHA playoffs, leaving them with an overall record of 10-3 (in three series) in the provincial playdowns.