Kootenay 5 Saint John 4
MISSISSAUGA, Ont. — The reeling Kootenay Ice felt they deserved a break.
They caught a big one that kept their MasterCard Memorial Cup chances alive.
Matt Fraser scored in overtime as the Ice defeated the Saint John Sea Dogs 5-4 on Tuesday.
On the replay, Fraser looked to be a few feet offside before taking a pass and snapping a shot through the legs of Mathieu Corbeil-Theriault for his second goal of the game at 3:55 of the extra period.
“With all the things that happened tonight, I think we deserved a break,” said Ice head coach Kris Knoblauch. “We’re going to see a few more elimination games, hopefully, to get to Sunday.”
The WHL champion Ice held a 4-3 lead late in regulation when Zack Phillips fired a shot that bounced off Tomas Jurco’s head and in behind Ice goaltender Nathan Lieuwen with just 15 seconds left in regulation.
“I’ve scored with my leg but never with my head,” said Jurco, who had two goals in the game. “I was just standing in front of the net trying to screen the goalie. I didn’t even know I scored.”
The Ice didn’t let the late goal kill their Memorial Cup dreams after coming back from a 2-0 deficit to take the 4-3 lead on the strength of Fraser’s first goal.
“It was frustrating watching them get a late goal,” Fraser said. “But good teams rebound. Going into overtime everyone in the room knew we were going to get the goal, and that’s what we did.
“Everyone just said to get pucks on net. It wasn’t going to be a nice goal. Any puck on the net isn’t a bad one — that’s what we wanted to do, and it worked out for us.”
Drew Czerwonka, Kevin King and Jesse Ismond had the other Kootenay goals. Lieuwen made 19 saves in goal for the win in front of a packed house at the Hershey Centre in Mississauga.
Ryan Tesink and Kevin Gagne scored the other goals for the QMJHL champion Sea Dogs. Corbeil-Theriault stopped 40 shots in defeat.
The Owen Sound Attack and the Mississauga St. Michael’s Majors wrap up round-robin play Wednesday. The winner of the matchup of OHL rivals will clinch a spot in Friday’s semifinal, while loser will face the Ice in a third-place tiebreaker Thursday.
“There’s three more games we got to win now,” Fraser said. “That was a big step for us to keep playing. Now we have that confidence back and a little bit of swagger.
“We’re a desperate hockey team. Desperate teams take chances and that’s what we’re going to do.”
Saint John already clinched its berth in the final with a thrilling come-from-behind overtime victory over the Attack on Monday. The Sea Dogs now have four days off before the championship game on Sunday.
Special teams were the difference as the Ice scored three times with the man-advantage while shutting out the Sea Dogs on the penalty kill.
The game started slow, with no scoring and few quality scoring chances in the first period.
The pace picked up in the second with the teams trading a pair of goals each, setting up a wild back-and-forth third period.
Kootenay took its first lead of the game just 23 seconds into the third period when Ismond, left alone in front, slapped a rebound into the open net.
The lead lasted less than two minutes, as Gagne snapped a shot between Lieuwen’s legs at 2:10 to tie the game at 3-3.
The Ice retook the lead at 7:19 with another power-play goal. Reinhart took a pass from McNabb and made a cross-ice feed to Fraser who fired it past a diving Corbeil-Theriault.
The lead held until Jurco’s header tied the game at 19:45 of regulation to set up overtime.
The Ice faced a depleted Sea Dogs’ lineup. With its spot in the final guaranteed, Saint John rested regulars Michael Kirkpatrick, Simon Depres, Steve Anthony and Danick Gauthier.
Monday’s overtime hero, Jonathan Huberdeau, dressed but saw limited ice time.
“We could say all we wanted to the kids, but they knew they were going to the final on Sunday,” said Sea Dogs head coach Gerard Gallant. “Coming back after a big win in overtime last night and then in less than 24 hours coming to play a good Kootenay team, we just didn’t play the game as well as we could’ve.”
Notes: The four days off are welcomed by the Sea Dogs who have several players battling the flu. … McNabb returned after serving a one-game suspension. … Jacob DeSerres got the night off as Jacob Edwards backed up Corbeil-Theriault in goal…NHL hall of famer and former Majors player Ted Lindsay was on hand for the ceremonial puck drop.