By Josh Howald
Last night, they broke the Ice.
The Owen Sound Attack opened the 2011 MasterCard Memorial Cup with a convincing 5-0 win over the Kootenay Ice last night at the Hershey Centre in Mississauga. Goaltender Jordan Binnington stopped all 29 Kootenay shots, and Robby Mignardi scored twice against the Western Hockey League champions.
Jay Gilbert and prone netminder Nathan Lieuwen hadn't yet spotted this loose puck. It stayed out, but five other chances did not as Owen Sound opened the 2011 MasterCard Memorial Cup with a 5-0 win. (Josh Howald photo)
This was a 2-0 contest until Mignardi broke things open midway through the third. With Owen Sound shorthanded, the OHL playoff MVP took a short feed from Andrew Shaw and sped away all alone. He put the puck past Nathan Lieuwen – who had been keeping his team in this game – before himself crashing into the net to make it 3-0 and putting this game away.
Owen Sound won this contest, but may have lost Colorado prospect Joey Hishon. Hishon took an elbow to the head late in the game from Kootenay captain Brayden McNabb. He was to be reevaluated this morning, and did not take part in today’s practice. That major penalty left Owen Sound with a man advantage for the remainder, and allowed the Attack to put this one away.
Owen Sound joins Saint John at 1-0, while the Ice and host Mississauga St. Michael’s Majors are 0-1. Those winless clubs will play tonight at 7 p.m., while Owen Sound and Saint John will meet tomorrow (Monday) night.
“You don’t win or lose this tournament on opening night,” said Kootenay coach Kris Knoblauch. “In two of our four series we lost Games 1 – we have lots of time to rebound. I thought we played well in the second, but other than that there is lots of room for improvement.”
Kootenay had three power play chances in the first period, but Mignardi scored the only goal. Shaw, back from a two-game suspension from Game 5 of the OHL Rogers Championship Series, beat an Ice defender to a Keevin Cutting dump-in. He found Mignardi alone in the slot to make it 1-0.
Binnington, one head on Owen Sound’s three-man goaltending “monster”, was excellent in the second. Kootenay outshot Owen Sound 15-6, but Binnington stood tall.
Jordan Binnington stops Kootenay's Steele Boomer in the second period of last night's Memorial Cup game. Binnington stopped all 29 shots he faced for his first playoff shut out. (Josh Howald photo)
“Kootenay began to push back in the second, and they dominated for the last 12 minutes of the period,” said Owen Sound coach Mark Reeds. “(Binnington) had an outstanding game. It’s what we expect of all our goaltenders – to step up and make the most of their opportunities.
Roman Berdnikov had the period’s only goal, beating Lieuwen with a hard wrist shot from the right wing. Mike Halmo and Cutting drew assists.
The third period was all Attack. Owen Sound outshot the Ice 15-5 in the final frame.
“I’m not sure if we got too excited to start the third, maybe we thought that’s all they had,” said Knoblauch. “We didn’t expect them to push back like that, but Owen Sound played an excellent game, they deserved to win.”
After Mignardi’s second goal, his 17th of the playoffs, Andrew Fritsch tipped home an Andrew Fritsch shot, and captain Garrett Wilson made it 5-0 with some nifty stickhandling with less than three minutes left. Halmo also assisted on Fritsch’s goal, while Matt Petgrave and Geoffrey Schemitsch had the helpers on Wilson’s power play tally.
A sold-out crowd of 5,429 was overwhelmingly pro-Attack. It will be interesting to see if the Hershey Centre is sold out tonight when the host Majors take on the Ice. As mentioned, the Ice will be without captain Brayden McNabb for tonight’s game, a 7 p.m. start.
Tomorrow night, Owen Sound will take on Saint John in a highly anticipated affair. The two 1-0 teams are idle today. The Sea Dogs edged out Mississauga 4-3 in the opening game of the Memorial Cup Friday night.
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