Ross Krieger scored his second goal of the game with 48.3 seconds left in the first overtime session Friday as the Toronto Varsity Blues defeated the Lakehead Thunderwolves 3-2 to tie the best-of-3 OUA West semifinal at Fort William Gardens.
In a seemingly innocent play as the sold-out Fort William Gardens crowd of 3,609 was preparing for a fourth intermission, Krieger jammed a loose puck at the side of the crease that squeaked past Thunderwolves goaltender Christian Cicigoi. The visitors’ ensuing celebration took the win out of the fans’ sails.
And the home team. But they have less than 24 hours to respond when the puck drops on the decisive Game 3 tonight at the Gardens.
Game time is 7 p.m. If sold out, fans can watch the contest on www.oua.tv for free.
“We’re just going to have to put it behind us. Disappointing overtime . . . have a quick memory, let it hurt for a little bit, move on, be ready to go for (tonight),” said LU head coach Andrew Wilkins.
Lakehead opened the series with a 5-3 win in Toronto on Wednesday. Now, tonight’s winner advances to the division final against either the Brock Badgers or Windsor Lancers. Windsor holds a 1-0 series lead heading into Game 2 tonight.
Toronto’s Jett Alexander picked up the win with a 40-save effort. Cicigoi stopped 40 of 43 in a losing cause. Toronto dominated the overtime, outshooting Lakehead 15-8.
“Both goalies were good. Cicigoi play a great game. We’ll let it sink in and move on really quickly,” Wilkins said.
Lakehead outshot Toronto 12-8 in a scoreless first period.
Greg Smith redirected a Griffen Fox pass at 12:53 past Alexander to give Lakehead a 1-0 lead of the second. Spencer Blackwell picked up the second assist.
Owen Robinson answered catcher side on Cicigoi during a Varsity Blues powerplay just under two minutes later.
Lakehead had a six-shot edge at the second intermission.
The teams traded third period goals to send the game into overtime.
Billy Moskal won a draw deep in the LU end and Krieger buried the puck five feet in the front of the hash marks top left to give the Blues a 2-1 lead at 2:44 of the third.
Defenceman Noah Massie scored his first playoff goal in a Thunderwolves jersey with a spectacular dangle and backhander top shelf to knot the score at 13:46.
Cicigoi made a multiple saves with three minutes left and another game-saver with a minute to go in the third to send the game into extra time.
Kevin Stiles and Josh Van Unen had good looks early in overtime for Lakehead. Cicigoi made a big blocker save at the 11:30 mark.
But ultimately, LU couldn’t clear the zone and Krieger scored in the blue paint to sent it to a third game.
Friday’s legit sellout was the first for the Thunderwolves program since the 2010 Queen’s Cup OUA final.
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