Not Over Yet: Frontenacs have been here before
They’re down 2-0 in the series, but this isn’t unfamiliar territory for the Kingston Frontenacs.
In last year’s first round encounter with the same Hamilton Bulldogs, the Frontenacs rallied from a 2-0 series deficit to advance on Linus Nyman’s winner in overtime of Game 7.
Also consider that the Frontenacs lost Game 1 of their first round series with North Bay and fell behind the Barrie Colts 2-0 after road losses in Games 1 and 2, only to storm back and win both affairs to reach the Eastern Conference Championship Series.
It’s one thing to fall behind 2-0 and recover, but the Frontenacs were outscored 13-3 at FirstOntario Centre, starting flat in both games to draw blunt, straightforward post-game thoughts from head coach Jay Varady.
One thing the first-year OHL bench boss did say though, is that it doesn’t matter what the score was.
“We’re in a series and it’s the first team to win four games and the scores of the games don’t matter because they’re over – you can’t change the past,” he said matter-of-factly following a 7-1 loss in Game 2 on Friday.
“We have to live in the present. We have to go home and rest and get ready to play Game 3.”
After a day off on Saturday, the Frontenacs return to the Rogers K-Rock Centre tonight where they played to a 22-6-5-1 record on the season. Kingston sticks have been quiet in the series thus far, prompting pointed comments from fourth-year overage veteran and captain Ted Nichol in advance of tonight’s puck drop.
“We just have to be ready,” he said. ‘They’ve wanted it more than us, and that’s not acceptable on our behalf. We have to figure a couple things out and make sure we take a couple wins on home ice.”
Kingston’s big mid-season acquisitions in former Mastercard Memorial Cup champions Gabriel Vilardi and Sean Day from the Windsor Spitfires along with Max Jones and Cliff Pu from the London Knights combined for just three points through the opening two games of the series. Pu took warmups in Game 2 before being held out of the lineup with a lower body injury.
In spite of that and the addition of back-to-back 40-goal man Jason Robertson being held off the scoresheet thus far, Nichol knows what his club is capable of and put forth a positive outlook for tonight’s matchup.
“Our team all year has been resilient in coming back after episodes like we’ve had in the past two games, so I think we’ll be ready for Game 3.”
The 2010 Windsor Spitfires are the last team to rally from a 2-0 series deficit in the conference finals, coming back to eliminate the Kitchener Rangers in Game 7 before going on to win both the OHL Championship and their second consecutive Mastercard Memorial Cup title.
The peripherals haven’t been good as the Fronts have been outshot 73-48 and been outmaneuvered in the faceoff circle with Hamilton winning 64 percent of the series’ faceoffs.
Despite that, last change and a supportive home crowd can help change the face of a playoff series and the Frontenacs set out to do that when the puck drops on Game 3 tonight at 6:00pm.