The people who set the schedule for the round robin portion of the Memorial Cup certainly knew what they were doing when they saved the bloodiest grudge match for last. The last time that the Mississauga St. Michael’s Majors and the Owen Sound Attack played each other, it was Game 7 of the OHL Championship, a heartbreaking loss for which the Majors were looking to avenge in this tournament.
In the previous games of the tournament, the matchups were between opponents who had never played against each other. In this case, the opponents know each other quite well – and hate each other.
As expected, the focus was on physicality rather than offense. Both teams were on a constant parade to the penalty box. A staggering 21 penalties were called between the two, giving Owen Sound four power plays, and Mississauga nine. Slashing and roughing were the most common penalty calls, certainly an indication of the physical play and the bad blood between these opponents.
Also in a constant parade to the ice were the medical staffs of both teams. Several players were injured during the course of the game, including Casey Cizikas, who returned shortly thereafter. Also hurt was Owen Sound Captain Garrett Wilson, who left the game and did not return.
Mississauga clearly dominated the first period, outshooting Owen Sound 12-3 and getting on the board first. Attack player Keevin Cutting sent a puck out of his defensive zone to the neutral zone, where Maxim Kitsyn picked it up, and fed Jordan Mayer a perfect pass through traffic. Mayer then wristed it past Jordan Binnington to take a 1-0 lead.
The Attack answered back in the second period, picking up their shot total and their pressure on Majors goaltender J.P. Anderson. Andrew Shaw, flying off the bench on a line change, picked up a loose rebound in front of Anderson and put it in the net to tie the game at 1-1.
Rob Flick cashed in for the Majors late in the second to put them back on top. Just after the injury to Cizikas, the Majors were awarded a 5-on-3 opportunity, and Flick took advantage, putting in a goal on a severe angle to regain the lead.
Justin Shugg added an empty net goal late in the third to make it a 3-1 final. With the win, Mississauga will go straight to the semifinal on Friday. The Owen Sound Attack will have to face the Kootenay Ice Thursday night in a tiebreaker game to determine the other team participating in the semifinal with Mississauga.
If the Attack are still without Joey Hishon and Garrett Wilson tomorrow, it could spell trouble. After the game, Owen Sound Coach Mark Reeds said that Wilson was “asking repeated questions” after he’d been hit several times, and a trainer made the decision to get him out of the game. Based on that assessment from the coach, Wilson’s status for Thursday could be questionable.
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