Chong Min Lee, Patrick Cozzi and Ben Poisson scored goals in the decisive second period, and the Prince George Spruce Kings scored five times unanswered to earn a 5-1 win over the Oakville Blades on Sunday afternoon at the 2019 National Junior A Championship.
The Spruce Kings dominated the middle frame, outshooting Oakville 20-3 and turning a one-goal deficit into a two-goal lead before the end of 40 minutes.
Jay Keranen and Nicholas Poisson had the other goals for Prince George, which evened its record at the Centennial Regional Arena to 2-2 this season – it opened the Doyle Cup with three games in Brooks against the hometown Bandits.
A penalty-filled first period (the teams combined for 11 minors) produced only a single goal. The Blades worked the puck around on a late-period power play before captain Peyton Reeves wired a wrist shot upstairs on the short side past Spruce Kings goaltender Logan Neaton.
But it was all Prince George from there. Lee pulled the Pacific Region champions even just 2:06 into the middle frame, swatting in a rebound on his backhand, and Cozzi got a piece of a Dylan Anhorn shot just over three minutes later to put the Spruce Kings ahead for good.
Ben Poisson made it 3-1 midway through the second, snapping a quick one-timer past Oakville netminder Will Barber on the power play.
Keranan added a fourth goal in the first minute of the third period with a wrist shot through traffic, before Nicholas Poisson beat Barber with an off-speed one-timer for another man-advantage goal and a 5-1 lead.
That was all for Barber, who allowed five goals on 39 shots. Chris Elliot made two saves the rest of the way.
The Blades, who have allowed 12 goals in two games, will try to regroup on an off-day Monday, while the Spruce Kings, who improved to 21-3 in the playoffs, will look to keep their roll going against the Ottawa Jr. Senators (7 p.m. MT).
BANDITS COME BACK TO BEAT TERRIERS, STAY PERFECT AT NJAC
Simon Gravel scored twice in the third period, including the game-winning goal in the opening minute, to help the Brooks Bandits come from behind to down the Portage Terriers 5-3 on Sunday night at the 2019 National Junior A Championship.
The Bandits are just the fifth host team since 2000 to open with consecutive wins, joining the 2002 Halifax Oland Exports, 2004 Grande Prairie Storm, 2006 Streetsville Derbys and 2012 Humboldt Broncos.
Andrew Lucas, William Lemay and Mack Hancock had the other goals for Brooks, which turned a two-goal deficit into a one-goal lead within 83 seconds late in the second period and early in the third.
Gravel gave the Bandits their first lead only 53 seconds into the final frame, parking himself at the top of the crease and banging home a feed after yeoman’s work by Ryan Mahshie behind the Portage goal, and he finished the scoring into an empty net as the clock struck zero.
The hosts controlled the play early, holding the Terriers without a shot on goal for the first 10 minutes, but quickly found themselves down 2-0.
Reilly Funk opened the scoring at 10:16 after Jay Buchholz jumped on a turnover at the side of the net and fed the puck in front, and Reece Henry had his centring pass bank off a Brooks skate and past goaltender Pierce Charleson at 14:57 to stun the capacity crowd at the Centennial Regional Arena.
Lucas got one back for the Bandits before the end of the period, getting a wrist shot through traffic for a power-play goal to send Brooks to the intermission down 2-1 despite outshooting the Terriers 19-6.
Ty Barnstable restored the two-goal edge for Portage with just over four minutes to go in the second period, getting his stick on a Sam Huston shot in the high slot, but that was the final highlight for the West Region champions.
Lemay made it 3-2 with 30 seconds left in the middle frame, circling into the slot and beating a screened Ethan Peterson, and Hancock jumped on an Andranik Armstrong rebound in the slot 17 seconds later to make it 3-3 after 40 minutes.
The Bandits locked down after the go-ahead goal by Gravel, allowing just six shots in the third period.
Brooks outshot the Terriers 46-16 overall.
The hosts will try to make it three-for-three when they take on the Ottawa Jr. Senators on Tuesday night (7 p.m. MT), right after Portage faces off against the Oakville Blades (2 p.m. MT).
“To watch Oakville play yesterday and see them on video, it is an advantage for sure. Oakville is probably tired with a tight turnaround, but I didn’t think we were that sharp to start so maybe [being the last team to start] is a bit of a disadvantage. I’m not too sure if our guys were nervous or we were rusty, but we need to be better off the start. I liked how we were resilient because we could have packed it in after the first period. It was one of our worst periods in a long time, but we found energy as the game went on. There are a lot of good things we’ll take into the next game.
– Adam Maglio, Prince George head coach, on bouncing back from a slow start
“It’s a good feeling and gives us confidence going into Tuesday’s game with Ottawa. We still need to clean things up a bit. We just need to execute, do the little things and everything will work out.”
– Andrew Lucas, Brooks defenceman, on a 2-0 start to the tournament
“I don’t think we played well and guys were frustrated with how our puck movement was. To get the two goals [at the end of the second period] were big and I think guys felt good about how the game would end up, because it wasn’t going well. Portage played well and had lots of pressure on us, but I think through the neutral zone we didn’t execute well on our passes. We had a lot of pucks on sticks, but they were bobbled and we missed things which made it hard to generate offence. We didn’t do a great job in their zone to get people to the net and our power play struggled. It wasn’t a perfect night for us, but at this time of year a win is a win.”
– Ryan Papaioannou, Brooks head coach, on coming from behind