Humboldt Strong

Nationals Top Cyclones In OT

Greg Bowman

It was the opening game of the Sutherland Cup semi-finals as the London Nationals hosted the Listowel Cyclones at the Western Fair Sports Centre. London was coming off of a sweep of the St. Thomas Stars to capture the GOJHL Western Conference title, while the Cyclones punched their ticket to the Sutherland semis by toppling the Elmira Sugar Kings. Both teams joined at centre ice prior to puck drop to honour those lost in the Humboldt tragedy.

The Nationals wasted no time getting things going as just two minutes into the game, Riley MacRae notched the opening goal  from a high-slot tip on the power play. The Nats would continue their hot start adding another tally just five minutes later off the stick of Brandon Glover. London was sitting pretty, but the Cyclones would halve the lead late in the period when Cullen Mercer was able light the lamp. 2-1 was the score in favour of the Nationals as they headed to the first intermission. 

In the second frame, the Cyclones started spinning, as they took it to the Nationals, getting a plethora of chances. They thought they had tied things up at one point when they beat Nats tender David Ovsjannikov. But the celebration was cut short as the referees waved the goal off deeming that the net was off its moorings. That didn't deter the storm the Cyclones were brewing, as they would get that tying goal just a couple of minutes later with Cullen Mercer nabbing his second goal of the night. That would be the only goal of the middle frame as the teams were tied at 2 after two.

The Nationals got into penalty trouble towards the end of the second, meaning that the Cyclones commenced the third with a two-man advantage, which they would promptly score on just 17 seconds into the frame; Listowel had grabbed their first lead of the game. But the Nats did not give up, as Riley MacRae would notch his second power play goal midway through the third to tie the game once again. The score would remain as such for the rest of regulation, meaning that the London faithful, and the hearty support from Listowel at the Western Fair Sports Centre, would be treated to some free hockey. 

The faithfuls may have gotten more than they bargained for, however, as the first overtime session was the first 20 minute frame in which neither team scored, meaning the game would go onto a second overtime. Finally, Brandon Glover of the Nats was able to bury one past Cyclones' goalie Max Wright to give London the victory, and the 1-0 series lead. Captain Brenden Trottier picked up his fourth assist on the night on the game winning goal as he continues his torrent playoff scoring pace, as he now has 5 goals and 24 assists in 15 playoff games to give him 29 points in total. 

The Nationals were able to steal game 1 as they were noticeably outplayed on the ice. But in playoff hockey, it's the final score that matters, and London would come out on the favourable side of it Wednesday night. Game 2 of the Sutherland Cup semi-final series will go on Friday in Listowel as the Cyclones will look to even the series, while the Nationals will look to take a 2-0 lead.