I asked the question at the end of yesterday's post if the OT goal Cody Eakin scored would awaken the somewhat sleepy giant, at least offensively, that he's been.
If you watched the game, question answered.
Cody Eakin opened the scoring with the eventual game-winner, Kevin King finally scored and Jesse Ismond made the most of his promotion to the big line as the Kootenay Ice shut-out the Medicine Hat Tigers 3-0 to take a 2-0 series lead as it now shifts back to Cranbrook.
The Tigers have the highlites up already here.
The addition to Jesse Ismond to the Eakin-King twosome in place of Steele Boomer who is out after suffering what looks to be a concussion worked like a charm. The cycle was on; the physical game was on; Kevin King was on and Eakin was all-world. The line dominated the Vey-Etem-Tochkin line into submission. Vey and Etem were a combined dash-6 and MIA most of the night.
I thought the suspension to Cole Grbavac would have an impact but not this much. I'd think he'd be back for game three but the WHL has yet to announce the length of the suspension. It was a big hole for the Tigers.
This was an exact opposite of last night's goalfest. Kootenay scored early again, this time at 3:57 when Ismond dished to Eakin who then ripped his 5th of the playoffs. Then Eakin's NHL-type speed created a breakaway that Bunz stopped only to have Kevin King chip in the garbage to break his playoff goose egg and then Eakin fed Antilla for the empty-netter.
Eakin had probably seven quality scoring chances on this night... Finished +3... Moved back to the pivot's position with the Boomer injury and looked more comfortable, more effective and much more dangerous.
The Tigers look like a frustrated bunch and it showed most of the night in their inability to crack the Ice neutral zone and when they did they didn't have a lot of possession in Kootenay's zone. Save for the three power plays the Ice surrendered - and even then not much - the Tigers maybe had sustained pressure two or three times on this night.
Kootenay didn't give up the PP's like they were 24 hours earlier... Nathan Lieuwen was much stronger on this night - just a note on Lieuwen, a post or two ago I mused about Lieuwen getting a pro contract stemming from his playoff performance. On Coming Down the Pipe (over there, on the right) discussing the WHL goalie pool for the NHL Draft, or more specifically how shallow it is, one scout thought that Lieuwen could be the first WHL goaltender taken in the draft this year, as an overager as he still is eligible - automatically - for the NHL Draft as a 19-year-old... The last Ice goaltender to get three shutouts in the playoffs? Dan Blackburn... How much did Kevin King need that goal? Easily his best performance of the playoffs... Sam Reinhart will check-in Tuesday night but I thought Rossignol played well when called upon in a fourth-line role... I like the idea of three forwards on the fourth unit with the last change at home. I don't think John Neibrandt got a shift as a converted forward.
Kootenay's now won nine straight playoffs games dating back to the Moose Jaw series.
Lastly, I'm sure most every member of the Ice remembers last season when they left the Rec Plex up 2-0 on the Tigers in the first round of the playoffs and the subsequent four-game losing streak for a quick exit. Though this is different - it's eerily similar to the Ice-Blades start with the OT win and then a dominating defensive gem to go home up 2-0 - that 2-0 lead last season must be fresh on the minds of the 17 players still on the roster.
Gametime for Game three at the Plex is 7PM Tuesday.