2018 SHL Division Playoff – Game 5

Eastern Division Series

QUEBEC TIGRES 4, HAMILTON PISTOLS 1

As the Quebec Tigres prepared for the deciding Game 5 in their playoff series, RW Stephane Mirac dressed in silence.  The winger is a local hero in Quebec, where the fans have nicknamed him “Stephane Miracle” for his goal-scoring prowess.  But Mirac had been quiet in the postseason, with only a single tally to his name through the first four games.  Several of his teammates – goalie Riki Tiktuunen, LW Walt Camernitz, even little-known winger Rupert MacDiarmid – had made a greater impact on the series.

“I felt it was time for me to make my mark,” said Mirac.

Sure enough, the winger made Game 5 into his personal showcase, scoring twice and leading his team to its first-ever SHL Finals appearance, as the Tigres whipped the Hamilton Pistols 4-1.

“I know this game meant a lot to Stephane,” said Quebec coach Martin Delorme.  “To be able to be a hero in front of his home fans… this was his dream come to life.”

With the Pistols having won the last two games to seize the momentum of the series, it was far from certain how the untested Tigres would respond.  Mirac set the tone for the game from the beginning.  Just 26 seconds in, he got a perfect feed from Camernitz and beat Hamilton goalie Lasse Koskinen up high to grab a 1-0 lead.

“I wanted to score quickly, so we and the fans could breathe a little easy,” said Mirac.

The Tigres had numerous chances to expand their lead in the first, as the Pistols committed three penalties.  But Quebec couldn’t convert on their power-play chances, and Hamilton controlled the ice during 5-on-5 play.  Tiktuunen had to make several challenging saves in order for the Tigres to keep their lead through the end of the period.

“After the first, we felt like we’d been outplayed,” admitted Camernitz.  “We were lucky to still be up.”

In the second period, the Tigres ratcheted up their forechecking pressure and slowed the game to their preferred pace.  LW Stellan Fisker gave Quebec some much-needed breathing room four and a half minutes in with a wicked slapshot from the faceoff circle that deflected off Koskinen’s glove and into the net.  But three minutes later, C Drustan Zarkovich – who took a lot of penalties in this series – was sent off for elbowing.  Pistols C Calvin Frye deflected a shot past a screened Tiktuunen to make it 2-1, turning the mood at Centre Citadelle a bit anxious.  The Tigres again came up empty on a late-period power play, and they went into the locker room still clinging to that one-goal edge.

“In the third, we were determined to put [the Pistols] away,” said Tigres D Richard McKinley.  “We were looking for that knockout blow.”

But that blow remained elusive through a slow-paced first half of the third; both teams had chances, but they hit posts, shanked shots, or pushed them wide.  Both teams seemed a bit nervous and uncertain.

Finally, with just under eight minutes remaining, the Tigres caught Hamilton in a rare odd-man rush, and MacDiarmid finished with a low liner that got between Koskinen’s pads to restore Quebec’s two-goal edge.

“We had them back on their heels,” said McKinley.  “We just needed that last punch.”

Mirac delivered the knockout blow just over a minute later, as he crashed the net during a sustained shift in the Hamilton end.  Camernitz skated hard toward the right post and faked a shot.  Koskinen scrambled to seal up the right side of the net.  Camernitz slid the puck over to Mirac, who buried it in the wide-open net to seal the win.

The Tigres star dropped his stick and skated toward the glass, waving his arms as he whipped the crowd – his crowd – into an ecstatic frenzy.

“In that moment, we reached heaven together,” said Mirac of his moment with the crowd.

Delorme believes that the closely-contested series helped his team prepare for the Finals.  “Although I would have loved a sweep,” the coach said, “it was good for us to experience some adversity, to have to reach down within ourselves and find that extra strength.”

The Tigres move on to face a rested, battled-tested Anchorage Igloos team that enters the Finals as favorites.  “We are not scared of them,” said Delorme of the Igloos.  “We know we have the talent and the drive to beat anyone.”

Pistols coach Keith Shields congratulated his team on a hard-fought series and vowed that his team will come back stronger next season.  “Man, what a ride!” Shields said.  “Sure, we’d rather have won.  But it was just a tremendous experience for us.  I couldn’t be prouder of my guys and how hard they fought.   We’re going to use this series and grow from it, and we’ll be just that much better next time around.”

E Final - Game 5, Hamilton @ Quebec, Centre Citadelle

                   1   2   3   OT   F
Hamilton           0   1   0        1
Quebec             1   1   2        4

 
Hamilton               G   A PTS PIM +/-   Quebec                 G   A PTS PIM +/-

Alexander       LW     0   1   1   4  -2   Camernitz       LW     0   2   2   4   2
Smyth           D      0   0   0   0  -3   Workman         D      0   1   1   0   3
Frye            C      1   0   1   0  -2   Zarkovich       C      0   1   1   2   1
Risch           D      0   1   1   2  -3   McKinley        D      0   0   0   0   3
Lafayette       RW     0   0   0   0  -2   Mirac           RW     2   0   2   0   2
Gunnarson       LW     0   0   0   0  -1   Fisker          LW     1   0   1   0   1
Mulligan        D      0   0   0   0   0   Ilyushin        C      0   1   1   0   2
Constantine     C      0   0   0   0  -1   Jones           D      0   0   0   0   0
Werner          D      0   0   0   0   0   Robinson        RW     0   0   0   0   1
Patterson       RW     0   0   0   2  -1   MacDiarmid      LW     1   0   1   0   1
Campbell        LW     0   0   0   0  -1   Pugliese        D      0   1   1   0   1
Glasco          D      0   0   0   0  -1   Kalashnikov     D      0   0   0   0   1
Jennings        RW     0   0   0   0  -1   Pentti          RW     0   1   1   0   1
Soforenko       LW     0   0   0   2  -1   Miller          C      0   1   1   0   1
Dyomin          D      0   0   0   0  -1   Wesson          D      0   0   0   0   0
----------------------------------------   ----------------------------------------
TOTALS                 1   2   3  10  -4   TOTALS                 4   8  12   6   4

Scratches:
HAM:  Zalmanis (inj), Kratz, Rodney
QUE:  Shovshenkov, Zhzhynov, Kane

 
Hamilton            SH    SV    G    Sv%
----------------------------------------
Koskinen            27    23    4  0.852

Quebec              SH    SV    G    Sv%
----------------------------------------
Tiktuunen           31    30    1  0.968

 

First Period
------------

GOALS:
00:26  QUE  Mirac (Camernitz, Workman)

PENALTIES:
04:27  HAM  Alexander 2:00 (Interference)
08:28  HAM  Risch 2:00 (Interference)
18:52  HAM  Soforenko 2:00 (Hooking)

Second Period
-------------

GOALS:
04:24  QUE  Fisker (Pugliese, Zarkovich)
08:09  HAM  Frye PP (Risch, Alexander)

PENALTIES:
07:48  QUE  Zarkovich 2:00 (Elbowing)
16:48  HAM  Alexander 2:00 (Hooking)

Third Period
------------

GOALS:
12:12  QUE  MacDiarmid (Pentti, Miller)
13:24  QUE  Mirac (Camernitz, Ilyushin)

PENALTIES:
06:32  QUE  Camernitz 4:00 (Unsportsmanlike Conduct)
08:29  HAM  Patterson 2:00 (Slashing)


 
SHOTS
------
                   1   2   3   OT   F
Hamilton          14   7  10       31
Quebec            10   7  10       27

 
POWER PLAYS
-----------

Hamilton         1 for 2
Quebec           0 for 5

 
INJURIES
--------

None
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2018 SHL Division Playoff – Game 4

Eastern Division Series

HAMILTON PISTOLS 2, QUEBEC TIGRES 0

After the Hamilton Pistols dropped the first two games of the best-of-five Eastern playoff to the Quebec Tigres despite outshooting their opponent in both games, many observers predicted that the Tigres would make quick work of the series.  Hamilton had finished the regular season on a cold streak, and it looked like Tigres goalie Riki Tiktuunen would extend their slump right out of the playoffs.

Pistols coach Keith Shields dismissed the naysayers.  For one thing, he felt that Tiktuunen’s success wasn’t sustainable.  “Tiktuunen’s a great goalie, but he’s not unbeatable,” Shields told reporters.  “I feel like the puck luck is due to break our way.  If we keep firing pucks at him, he’s going to crack eventually.”

Even more, though, he felt that the enthusiasm of the home crowds would shift the momentum in Hamilton’s favor.  “You feed off the energy of your fans in your building,” said Shields.  “Our fans are great, and I know they’re gonna be loud for us.  That will give us extra energy and tilt the ice our way.”

The Pistols and their fans validated the coach’s faith in the last two games.  After surviving a long grind and pulling out a double-overtime win in Game 3, Hamilton came out strong and used the energy in the building to fuel a 2-0 win, sending the series to a winner-take-all Game 5 back in Quebec.  Tiktuunen looks mortal, and the Pistols’ top-notch top line is getting hot at the right time.

“Now, all those smart guys who were reading our obituary after the first two games, don’t you feel silly?” said Shields.  “I told you this team was too talented to be held down, especially with our fans behind us.”

The game started slowly, as both clubs seemed a bit drained from their Game 3 marathon.  But an early penalty on Tigres D Doug Wesson got the crowd fired up, and the Pistols quickly warmed to the task.  They pinned Quebec in their own zone through the power play, and LW Steven Alexander broke through with a shot from the bottom of the left faceoff circle that snuck in above Tiktuunen’s blocker.  If was only the second shot of the entire game, but it put Hamilton in front.

“Getting that first goal was huge,” Alexander said.  “It fired up the crowd and fired up our bench, too.  It was the shot of adrenaline we needed.”

As the second period began, the Pistols had found a rhythm.  They nearly cashed in on another early-period power play, as RW Kenny Patterson fired a shot that dribbled between Tiktuunen’s pads.  The Quebec netminder managed to sweep the puck away before it crossed the goal line, however.  A couple minutes later, Hamilton killed off an elbowing penalty to LW Jamie Campbell, and the crowd roared and stomped so hard that the benches shook.

“It felt like it was an earthquake,” said Tigres C Mikhail Ilyushin.

Shortly after the Campbell penalty ended, Pistols C Calvin Frye grabbed a loose puck near his own blue line and fired a perfect pass to Alexander, who had leaked out of the zone.  Alexander streaked up the ice, deked past Quebec D Hal Pugliese, and thundered a slapshot that beat Tiktuunen and went bar-down for a second goal.

That two-goal lead felt more like ten given Quebec’s challenges in jump-starting its sluggish offense.  The Tigres had one more power play opportunity in the second and two in the third, but they couldn’t convert on them, and they found it virtually impossible to generate shots during 5-on-5 play.

“We need more quality and more quantity on offense,” said Quebec coach Martin Delorme.  “What we saw tonight will not get the job done.”

Meanwhile, Pistols goalie Lasse Koskinen looked sharp, turning aside all 24 shots he faced.  “Lasse really stayed on it tonight,” said Hamilton D Hercules Mulligan.  “There were stretches were the action in our end was so dead he probably wanted to pull out a rocking chair and take it easy.  But whenever they made it through to our end, he was on his toes and making the stops.”

All in all, it was a decisive win for the Pistols, and momentum is definitely on their side going into the deciding game.  But will they be able to keep it going as the action shifts back to Quebec?  Shields pointed out repeatedly that his team got a boost from the red-clad throngs at Gunpowder Armory; how will they do amid the orange-clad throngs at Centre Citadelle, rooting for their defeat?  How badly will the Pistols miss third-line center Edz Zalmanis, who left the game late in the second period with an upper-body injury and is reportedly done for the year?

And what about Tiktuunen, who looked superhuman in the first two games but distinctly mortal in the last two?  Will he rediscover his mojo on home ice, or have the Pistols figured him out?

A shot at the Vandy rides on the answers to those questions.  Both teams can’t wait to find out what happens next.

E Final - Game 4, Quebec @ Hamilton, Gunpowder Armory

                   1   2   3   OT   F
Quebec             0   0   0        0
Hamilton           1   1   0        2

 
Quebec                 G   A PTS PIM +/-   Hamilton               G   A PTS PIM +/-

Camernitz       LW     0   0   0   0  -1   Alexander       LW     2   0   2   0   1
Workman         D      0   0   0   0   0   Smyth           D      0   1   1   0   0
Zarkovich       C      0   0   0   2   0   Frye            C      0   2   2   0   1
McKinley        D      0   0   0   0   0   Risch           D      0   0   0   2   0
Mirac           RW     0   0   0   0  -1   Lafayette       RW     0   0   0   0   1
Fisker          LW     0   0   0   0   0   Gunnarson       LW     0   0   0   0   0
Ilyushin        C      0   0   0   0  -1   Mulligan        D      0   0   0   0   0
Jones           D      0   0   0   0   0   Constantine     C      0   0   0   4   0
Robinson        RW     0   0   0   0   0   Werner          D      0   0   0   2   0
MacDiarmid      LW     0   0   0   0   0   Patterson       RW     0   0   0   0   0
Pugliese        D      0   0   0   0  -1   Campbell        LW     0   0   0   2   0
Kalashnikov     D      0   0   0   2  -1   Glasco          D      0   0   0   0   1
Pentti          RW     0   0   0   0   0   Zalmanis        C      0   0   0   0   0
Miller          C      0   0   0   0   0   Soforenko       LW     0   0   0   0   0
Wesson          D      0   0   0   2   0   Dyomin          D      0   0   0   0   1
----------------------------------------   ----------------------------------------
TOTALS                 0   0   0   6  -1   TOTALS                 2   3   5  10   1

Scratches:
QUE:  Shovshenkov, Zhzhynov, Kane
HAM:  Kratz, Jennings, Rodney

 
Quebec              SH    SV    G    Sv%
----------------------------------------
Tiktuunen           31    29    2  0.935

Hamilton            SH    SV    G    Sv%
----------------------------------------
Koskinen            24    24    0  1.000

 

First Period
------------

GOALS:
03:31  HAM  Alexander PP (Smyth, Frye)

PENALTIES:
02:34  QUE  Wesson 2:00 (Diving)
04:06  HAM  Constantine 2:00 (Cross-checking)
14:06  QUE  Kalashnikov 2:00 (Diving)

Second Period
-------------

GOALS:
09:07  HAM  Alexander (Frye)

PENALTIES:
01:37  QUE  Zarkovich 2:00 (Tripping)
05:03  HAM  Campbell 2:00 (Elbowing)
17:18  HAM  Werner 2:00 (Interference)

Third Period
------------

GOALS:
None


PENALTIES:
01:29  HAM  Risch 2:00 (Holding the Stick)
14:35  HAM  Constantine 2:00 (Holding the Stick)


 
SHOTS
------
                   1   2   3   OT   F
Quebec             7   8   9       24
Hamilton           8  11  12       31

 
POWER PLAYS
-----------

Quebec           0 for 5
Hamilton         1 for 3

 
INJURIES
--------

Edgars Zalmanis (HAM) -- Upper-body  20 games

 

2018 SHL Division Playoff – Game 3

Western Division Series

ANCHORAGE IGLOOS 5, MICHIGAN GRAY WOLVES 1

Even though the Anchorage Igloos won the first two games of their best-of-five series against the Michigan Gray Wolves on the road and were all but certain to advance to the SHL Finals, C Jake Frost had one message for his teammates before today’s Game 3.  “I want us to go out and take care of business tonight,” Frost said.  “There’s a damn good team over in the other locker room, and we shouldn’t give them a chance to get back in it.  Let’s end it now.”

End it the Igloos did, and in blowout fashion.  They shelled Wolves goalie Dirk Lundquist – Frost, who scored twice, led the way – and came away with a 5-1 win, completing a stunning sweep that few would have predicted before the series began.

“They were geared up for a fight, and we weren’t,” said Michigan RW Oskar Denison.  “They ran us right off the ice.”

Throughout the series, Anchorage thrived by playing at a faster pace than Michigan could handle.
In Game 3, the Wolves were determined to prevent the first-period ambush that they’d suffered in the first two contests.  They succeeded in limiting the Igloos to 12 shots in the period, and emerged with a scoreless tie – the first time all series that they didn’t trail after the opening stanza.

“We hadn’t let them tilt the ice on us,” Wolves C Warren Marlow said of the first period.  “But we knew we needed to go out and score a couple, and seize the momentum.”

Unfortunately for Michigan, the Igloos quickly turned the tide in their favor in the second period.  About three minutes in, LW Les Collins won the race for a loose puck at center ice, and he and RW Remi Montrechere sped up the ice on a breakaway.  Montrechere finished the rush with a beautiful shot in the upper right corner of the net to make it 1-0.

“That goal was huge,” said Igloos coach Sam Castor.  “It lit up the crowd, lit up our bench, got everybody going.”

A few minutes later, the Anchorage third line – which tormented the Wolves all series – struck again.  They set up an extended shift in the offensive zone and ran Michigan ragged.  After almost two full minutes of zone time, LW Waldo Miranda buried a slapper for a two-goal lead.

The frustrated Wolves took a couple penalties in quick succession.  They killed off the ensuing 5-on-3 situation, but struggled to get the puck out of their own end.  Finally, Frost fired a bullet that deflected off of Lundquist’s glove and into the net, giving Anchorage a 3-0 advantage.  The fans at Arctic Circle Arena began serenading Lundquist’s name as a sing-song taunt.

“You could just see [the Wolves’] heads sagging on the bench after that,” said Frost.  “I think we broke them right there.”

It was bad enough that Michigan coach Ron Wright considered pulling his elite netminder.  “I wanted to spare him,” said the coach.  “But I knew that yanking him would basically be waving the white flag, and I wasn’t going to do that.”

Lundquist stayed in the game, and three minutes into the third, Frost beat him again on a deflection that went under his blocker.

“I failed my teammates, in this game and in this series,” said the Wolves goaltender.  “My team needed me to be at my best, and I wasn’t.”

The Wolves finally played with speed and desperation after that, but it was far too late.  RW Benoit Poulin finally broke the shutout midway through the third, pushing the puck over the goal line after a scrum in front of the crease.  But Igloos RW Nicklas Ericsson struck back on the power play a minute and a half later to restore Anchorage’s four-goal edge.

During the postgame celebration, the Igloos seemed a bit shocked at their conquest.  “We told ourselves all along that we matched up great with [the Wolves],” said D Sebastian Pomfret.  “But we weren’t expecting it to be… this easy.”

Castor lauded his team for a heroic effort.  “I told my boys that if we were going to win this, we’d have to give them hell,” Castor told reporters.  “And we did just that.  We gave them hell for three straight games.  I couldn’t be prouder.”

He did note that the Igloos would be moving on to the the Finals without Montechere, who exited in the third period with an upper-body injury and is expected to miss the rest of the season.  “Now we’ve got to go win the Vandy for Remi,” Castor said.

Wright, meanwhile, was somber as he contemplated his team’s loss.  “Congratulations to Anchorage for playing a terrific series,” the Michigan coach said.  “They really took it to us.  We failed in every aspect of the game, and I take responsibility for that.  We seemed to think we were bulletproof because we had a good regular season.  Well, now we’ll have all offseason to think about how we came up short, and how we can come back stronger next year.”

W Final - Game 3, Michigan @ Anchorage, Arctic Circle Arena

                   1   2   3   OT   F
Michigan           0   0   1        1
Anchorage          0   3   2        5

 
Michigan               G   A PTS PIM +/-   Anchorage              G   A PTS PIM +/-

Douglas         LW     0   0   0   0  -1   Koons           LW     0   2   2   4   1
Kronstein       D      0   0   0   2  -3   Keefe           D      0   2   2   2   3
Madison         D      0   0   0   0  -3   Frost           C      2   0   2   0   1
Lunsford        RW     0   0   0   0  -1   Martinsson      D      0   1   1   0   0
Beruschko       LW     0   0   0   2  -1   Ericsson        RW     1   2   3   0   1
Mudrick         D      0   1   1   2   0   Collins         LW     0   1   1   2   1
Marlow          C      0   1   1   0  -1   Pomfret         D      0   1   1   0   3
Zabielski       D      0   0   0   2   0   Bernard         C      0   0   0   4   1
Poulin          RW     1   0   1   0  -1   Frederick       D      0   0   0   2   0
Davenport       LW     0   0   0   0  -1   Montrechere     RW     1   0   1   0   1
Bergdorf        D      0   0   0   0   0   Miranda         LW     1   0   1   0   1
Knight          C      0   0   0   0  -1   Citrone         D      0   0   0   0   0
Tollefson       D      0   0   0   2   0   Calligan        D      0   0   0   2   0
Denison         RW     0   0   0   2  -1   Summers         RW     0   0   0   0   1
Cage            C      0   0   0   0  -1   Bellmore        C      0   1   1   0   1
----------------------------------------   ----------------------------------------
TOTALS                 1   2   3  12  -3   TOTALS                 5  10  15  16   3

Scratches:
MIC:  Bailes (inj), Berlinger, Bullock, Eberlein
ANC:  Zhlotkin, Druzek, Trammell

 
Michigan            SH    SV    G    Sv%
----------------------------------------
Lundquist           38    33    5  0.868

Anchorage           SH    SV    G    Sv%
----------------------------------------
Worthington         32    31    1  0.969

 

First Period
------------

GOALS:
None


PENALTIES:
03:33  MIC  Mudrick 2:00 (Elbowing)
04:51  ANC  Koons 4:00 (Elbowing)
15:03  ANC  Bernard 4:00 (Unsportsmanlike Conduct)
16:45  ANC  Collins 2:00 (Slashing)
17:55  MIC  Denison 2:00 (Interference)

Second Period
-------------

GOALS:
02:51  ANC  Montrechere (Collins, Keefe)
07:09  ANC  Miranda (Bellmore, Martinsson)
11:00  ANC  Frost (Ericsson, Koons)

PENALTIES:
03:22  ANC  Keefe 2:00 (Hooking)
07:43  MIC  Tollefson 2:00 (Cross-checking)
07:54  MIC  Kronstein 2:00 (Interference)
13:56  ANC  Calligan 2:00 (Roughing)
16:02  ANC  Frederick 2:00 (Cross-checking)

Third Period
------------

GOALS:
03:06  ANC  Frost (Koons, Ericsson)
11:05  MIC  Poulin (Marlow, Mudrick)
12:30  ANC  Ericsson PP (Keefe, Pomfret)

PENALTIES:
07:09  MIC  Zabielski 2:00 (Slashing)
12:10  MIC  Beruschko 2:00 (Elbowing)


 
SHOTS
------
                   1   2   3   OT   F
Michigan           9   8  15       32
Anchorage         12  12  14       38

 
POWER PLAYS
-----------

Michigan         0 for 6
Anchorage        1 for 6

 
INJURIES
--------

Remi Montrechere (ANC) -- Upper-body  10 games
Max Madison (MIC) -- Lower-body  7 games

 

Eastern Division Series

HAMILTON PISTOLS 4, QUEBEC TIGRES 3 (DOUBLE OT)

The Hamilton Pistols certainly didn’t make things easy on themselves in a must-win Game 3.  They had to rally from behind twice, and then required more than a period and a half of extra time.  But when the end finally came after a long hard slog, the Pistols notched a 4-3 victory over the Quebec Tigres, staving off elimination in their series.

“You’ve got to give the boys credit,” said Hamilton coach Keith Shields.  “They got knocked to the canvas a couple times, but they got up and kept battling, by golly!”

The Tigres knocked the Pistols back on their heels early.  Hamilton D Albie Glasco took a tripping penalty 17 seconds into the game, and Quebec RW Rupert MacDiarmid made them pay with a blast from the top of the faceoff circle.  Even though the Pistols outshot the Tigres 13-9 in the first, they couldn’t pierce Tiktuunen.

“It seemed like that guy was eight feet tall out there,” said Pistols C Calvin Frye.  “We tried everything we could to get it by him, and he just shut us down.”

That finally changed in a crazy stretch at the beginning of the second period.  After Pistols D Craig Werner was sent off for slashing, MacDiarmid banged home another power-play goal to make it 2-0.  The lightly-regarded MacDiarmid has tormented Hamilton in this series, with three goals and an assist so far.

No sooner had Quebec built a two-goal edge than it vanished in a puff of smoke.  Pistols LW Steven Alexander went top-shelf on Tiktuunen 53 seconds after MacDiarmid’s tally to end the shutout.  Seconds later, Tigres LW Walt Camernitz was whistled for slashing, and Alexander beat Tiktuunen on the short side to tie the game.

The second period slowed down after that, although Camernitz added another power play tally with six minutes left in the period to put Quebec back on top.

“Even though we were behind going into the third, we felt confident,” said Alexander.  “We’d proven that Tiktuunen was human.”

The crowd at Gunpowder Armory was full-throated in support of their heroes, rattling the rafters with their cheers.  The Pistols opened the period on the power play and four seconds into the frame, Tigres D Dmitri Kalashnikov was sent off for interference, giving Hamilton a two-man advantage.  Frye wasted no time putting the puck between Tiktuunen’s legs to tie it up again.

“I honestly thought the building was going to come down, the fans went so crazy,” said Frye.

The rest of the period was a tense but scoreless affair.  The Pistols killed off a couple of late penalties to preserve the tie, and the fans roared their approval.

In overtime, Hamilton relied on the crowd’s raucous support to give them energy.  Camernitz nearly ended the game – and Hamilton’s season – three minutes in, when he fired a shot from the slot that got past Pistols netminder Lasse Koskinen.  But the shot pinged off the post and came to rest in the crease, when Koskinen covered it before the Tigres could poke it in.

“The way that shot somehow didn’t get over the line, that was an act of God,” said Shields.  “No other way around it.”

The game went to a second overtime, and the pace of the game slowed considerably, as both teams looked dead on their skates.  But again, the crowd’s energy fed the Pistols.  “The fans really picked us up there,” said Alexander.  “We couldn’t have done this without them.”

When Tigres D Laurie Workman was called for slashing twelve minutes into the second overtime, the fans somehow cranked the fury up to another level.  Amid the maelstrom, Pistols LW Magnus Gunnarson fired a shot that made it through a crowd and past a screened Tiktuunen for the game-winning goal.

Workman’s penalty was one of 10 called on the Tigres in the game, and coach Martin Delorme cautioned his team that they need to improve in this area.  “When we take this many penalties, we are doing [the Pistols’] work for them,” Delorme said.

Shields, meanwhile, wants the fans to bring the same enthusiasm for Game 4.  “I want to say to our fans, you guys did a great job tonight,” the Pistols coach said.  “I want you all to go home, rest up, and come back strong for the next one.  We need that kind of energy in the building again.”

E Final - Game 3, Quebec @ Hamilton, Gunpowder Armory

                   1   2   3  1OT 2OT   F
Quebec             1   2   0    0   0   3
Hamilton           0   2   1    0   1   4

Quebec                 G   A PTS PIM +/-   Hamilton               G   A PTS PIM +/-

Camernitz       LW     1   0   1   4  -1   Alexander       LW     2   0   2   0   1
Workman         D      0   0   0   2   0   Smyth           D      0   1   1   2   0
Zarkovich       C      0   0   0   0   0   Frye            C      1   0   1   0   1
McKinley        D      0   0   0   0   0   Risch           D      0   2   2   0   0
Mirac           RW     0   1   1   2  -1   Lafayette       RW     0   2   2   0   1
Fisker          LW     0   1   1   0   0   Gunnarson       LW     1   0   1   0   0
Ilyushin        C      0   1   1   0  -1   Mulligan        D      0   0   0   4   0
Jones           D      0   1   1   0   0   Constantine     C      0   1   1   0   0
Robinson        RW     0   0   0   0   0   Werner          D      0   0   0   4   0
MacDiarmid      LW     2   0   2   2   0   Patterson       RW     0   1   1   0   0
Pugliese        D      0   0   0   0  -1   Campbell        LW     0   0   0   0   0
Kalashnikov     D      0   0   0   6  -1   Glasco          D      0   0   0   2   1
Pentti          RW     0   0   0   0   0   Zalmanis        C      0   0   0   0   0
Miller          C      0   1   1   2   0   Soforenko       LW     0   0   0   0   0
Wesson          D      0   0   0   2   0   Dyomin          D      0   1   1   0   1
----------------------------------------   ----------------------------------------
TOTALS                 3   5   8  20  -1   TOTALS                 4   8  12  12   1

Scratches:
QUE:  Shovshenkov, Zhzhynov, Kane
HAM:  Kratz, Jennings, Rodney

Quebec              SH    SV    G    Sv%
----------------------------------------
Tiktuunen           41    37    4  0.902

Hamilton            SH    SV    G    Sv%
----------------------------------------
Koskinen            41    38    3  0.927


First Period
------------

GOALS:
00:27  QUE  MacDiarmid PP (Fisker)

PENALTIES:
00:17  HAM  Glasco 2:00 (Tripping)
07:34  QUE  Kalashnikov 2:00 (Tripping)
07:45  QUE  Mirac 2:00 (Interference)
17:25  QUE  Kalashnikov 2:00 (Cross-checking)
18:27  HAM  Mulligan 2:00 (Hooking)

Second Period
-------------

GOALS:
00:56  QUE  MacDiarmid PP (Jones, Miller)
01:49  HAM  Alexander (Dyomin, Lafayette)
02:54  HAM  Alexander PP (Smyth, Risch)
14:06  QUE  Camernitz PP (Ilyushin, Mirac)

PENALTIES:
00:29  HAM  Werner 2:00 (Slashing)
02:10  QUE  Camernitz 2:00 (Slashing)
06:06  QUE  MacDiarmid 2:00 (Roughing)
09:28  QUE  Miller 2:00 (Elbowing)
14:04  HAM  Werner 2:00 (Clipping)
18:53  QUE  Wesson 2:00 (Tripping)

Third Period
------------

GOALS:
00:10  HAM  Frye PP (Lafayette, Risch)

PENALTIES:
00:04  QUE  Kalashnikov 2:00 (Interference)
11:04  HAM  Smyth 2:00 (Slashing)
19:09  HAM  Mulligan 2:00 (Tripping)

First Overtime
--------------

GOALS:
None

PENALTIES:
10:14  QUE  Camernitz 2:00 (Interference)

First Overtime
--------------

GOALS:
12:49  HAM  Gunnarson PP (Constantine, Patterson)

PENALTIES:
12:00  QUE  Workman 2:00 (Slashing)

SHOTS
------
                   1   2   3  1OT  2OT   F
Quebec             9   9   9   10    4  41
Hamilton          13   8   8    8    4  41

POWER PLAYS
-----------

Quebec           3 for 6
Hamilton         3 for 10

INJURIES
--------

None

 

2018 SHL Division Playoff – Game 2

Eastern Division Series

QUEBEC TIGRES 2, HAMILTON PISTOLS 1

The Quebec Tigres are taking an unconventional route to success.  In Game 1, the Hamilton Pistols outshot them by a 2-to-1 margin, but Quebec still pulled out a 2-1 win in overtime thanks to the heroics of goalie Riki Tiktuunen.  In Game 2, the Tigres managed to reduce the Pistols’ volume of shots, although Quebec was still outshot.  With Tiktuunen turning in another strong game, the Tigres were able to come from behind and claim a 2-1 win that gives them a 2-0 lead in the series.

“I think all of our postseason paychecks should go to Riki,” said Quebec C Mikhail Ilyushin.  “He has been our star in this series.”

Of the 27 shots Hamilton aimed at Tiktuunen in this game, the Finnish netminder turned aside 26 of them.  The only one that eluded him occurred in the first minute of the game, when the Tigres failed to clear Pistols D Clayton “Crusher” Risch from in front of the net, and he redirected a shot from C Edz Zalmanis underneath the crossbar.

“Riki never had a shot at that one,” said Tigres coach Martin Delorme.  “Even Superman cannot stop what he cannot see.”

Faced with their first deficit of the series, the Tigres went to work trying to even the score.  But Quebec’s attempts to rally were stymied by a rash of penalties.  They spent a significant chunk of the first period killing off penalties to LW Walt Camernitz and D Laurie Workman.  Then in the second period, Tigres C Drustan Zarkovich was sent to the penalty box three separate times.

“I spent so much time in the sin bin, I thought maybe I should bring my toothbrush,” said Zarkovich.

In between penalty kills, D Richard McKinley managed to tie the game for Quebec by going five-hole on Pistols netminder Lasse Koskinen.  It was one of only six shots for the Tigres in the second period.  “Between the penalties and all, it felt like we were trying to climb out of a pit of quicksand,” said Camernitz.

Just over three and a half minutes into the third period, Camernitz fired a laser that seemed to go through Koskinen and into the net, giving Quebec the lead.  “I thought I was going to look down and find a hole in my jersey,” said Koskinen.

After Camernitz’s tally, the Tigres turned up their defense for the rest of the period, holding the Pistols to eight shots, all of which Tiktuunen turned aside.

Delorme praised his team’s effort, although he criticized them for taking too many penalties.  “We looked much more like ourselves today,” the Quebec coach said.  “As long as we can avoid taking careless calls, we will be in good shape.”

Pistols coach Keith Shields remained upbeat, although his team is now only one loss away from elimination.  “The whole mojo of this series is going to shift when we’re back in our place,” Shields told reporters.  “We’ve got to solve Tiktuunen, but I’m confident we can do that when we’ve got our crowd behind us.”

 

E Final - Game 2, Hamilton @ Quebec, Centre Citadelle

                   1   2   3   OT   F
Hamilton           1   0   0        1
Quebec             0   1   1        2

 
Hamilton               G   A PTS PIM +/-   Quebec                 G   A PTS PIM +/-

Alexander       LW     0   0   0   0  -1   Camernitz       LW     1   0   1   2   1
Smyth           D      0   1   1   0   0   Workman         D      0   0   0   2   0
Frye            C      0   0   0   0  -1   Zarkovich       C      0   0   0   6   0
Risch           D      1   0   1   0   0   McKinley        D      1   0   1   0   0
Lafayette       RW     0   0   0   0  -1   Mirac           RW     0   1   1   0   1
Gunnarson       LW     0   0   0   0   0   Fisker          LW     0   0   0   0   0
Mulligan        D      0   0   0   5  -1   Ilyushin        C      0   0   0   0   1
Constantine     C      0   0   0   0   0   Jones           D      0   1   1   0   1
Werner          D      0   0   0   0  -1   Robinson        RW     0   0   0   0   0
Patterson       RW     0   0   0   0   0   MacDiarmid      LW     0   1   1   0   0
Campbell        LW     0   0   0   2   0   Pugliese        D      0   0   0   0   0
Glasco          D      0   0   0   0   0   Kalashnikov     D      0   0   0   4   0
Zalmanis        C      0   1   1   0   0   Pentti          RW     0   0   0   5   0
Soforenko       LW     0   0   0   0   0   Miller          C      0   0   0   0   0
Dyomin          D      0   0   0   0   0   Wesson          D      0   0   0   0   1
----------------------------------------   ----------------------------------------
TOTALS                 1   2   3   7  -1   TOTALS                 2   3   5  19   1

Scratches:
HAM:  Kratz, Jennings, Rodney
QUE:  Shovshenkov, Zhzhynov, Kane

 
Hamilton            SH    SV    G    Sv%
----------------------------------------
Koskinen            21    19    2  0.905

Quebec              SH    SV    G    Sv%
----------------------------------------
Tiktuunen           27    26    1  0.963

 

First Period
------------

GOALS:
00:59  HAM  Risch (Zalmanis, Smyth)

PENALTIES:
04:34  QUE  Camernitz 2:00 (Diving)
08:10  QUE  Workman 2:00 (Tripping)

Second Period
-------------

GOALS:
02:51  QUE  McKinley (MacDiarmid)

PENALTIES:
00:08  QUE  Zarkovich 2:00 (Delay of Game)
03:40  QUE  Zarkovich 2:00 (Roughing)
16:58  QUE  Zarkovich 2:00 (Unsportsmanlike Conduct)

Third Period
------------

GOALS:
03:43  QUE  Camernitz (Jones, Mirac)

PENALTIES:
06:23  QUE  Pentti 5:00 (Fighting)
06:23  HAM  Mulligan 5:00 (Fighting)
12:32  HAM  Campbell 2:00 (Delay of Game)
13:02  QUE  Kalashnikov 2:00 (Roughing)
19:13  QUE  Kalashnikov 2:00 (Holding the Stick)


 
SHOTS
------
                   1   2   3   OT   F
Hamilton          12   7   8       27
Quebec             7   6   8       21

 
POWER PLAYS
-----------

Hamilton         0 for 7
Quebec           0 for 1

 
INJURIES
--------

None

Western Division Series

ANCHORAGE IGLOOS 4, MICHIGAN GRAY WOLVES 2

Anchorage Igloos coach Sam Castor is always quick to point to his team’s depth as its greatest strength.  “Guys like Frosty and Koonsy and Ty [Worthington] get all the headlines,” Castor says, “but lots of teams have stars.  But even if your stars match up with ours, we’re still going to beat you because our second and third lines, and our bottom-pair D, is better than yours.  No other team can match up with us all the way down.”

In Game 2, the Igloos showed the truth of Castor’s statement.  Thanks to the exceptional performance of their third line and the ability to push the pace of the game, Anchorage once again stunned the Michigan Gray Wolves in their building, winning 4-2 to take a 2-0 lead in this best-of-five series.

“It’s the triumph of the scrubs,” said Igloos C Harvey Bellmore.  “We may not get a ton of ice time, but we’re making the most of it.”

Anchorage’s third line – which consists of Bellmore, LW Waldo Miranda, and RW Ben Summers – has been the difference maker so far in this series.  They’ve put up a +5 rating, and they’ve forced Wolves coach Ron Wright to use his top lines heavily in an effort to stop the bleeding.

Michigan got the early edge in this game, as Igloos LW Jerry Koons was whistled for diving within the first minute, and Wolves LW Todd Douglas cashed in on the ensuing power play for a 1-0 Michigan lead.  With the crowd at Cadillac Place in full roar, Castor decided to take a page from his Game 1 playbook and turn the contest into a track meet.  In order to do that, he turned to heavy minutes for his speedy bottom line.

“They can’t trap us if they can’t catch us,” Castor said.

Michigan initially withstood the onslaught – with the help of several Anchorage penalties – but the Igloos broke through before the end of the first period.  Just after killing off a 5-on-3 situation, D Olaf Martinsson blasted home the game-tying shot with the third line on the ice.  Six minutes later, Summers finished off an odd-man rush by slipping one between Dirk Lundquist’s pads for his third goal of the series.  After Wolves D Brooks Zabielski was called for holding the stick late in the first, Koons tipped on in on the power play to make it 3-1.  At period’s end, the arena was as silent as a library.

“They ambushed us and took us right out of the game,” admitted Wolves C Warren Marlow.  “We let the game get away from us.”

In the second period, D Fritz Kronstein scored on another power play to get the Wolves within a goal and stir up the crowd a bit.  But that was as close as they would get, and Bellmore fired one home just inside the post early in the third period to all but seal the game.  Whatever hope Michigan had of rallying in the closing minutes died after D “Mad Max” Madison and C Phoenix Cage both took penalties that Wright said were “just out of frustration.”

The Wolves, who finished with the SHL’s best record by a comfortable margin, find themselves in a most unexpected position.  If they’re going to avoid a humiliating sweep, they’ll need to win Game 3 on enemy ice.  If they’re going to advance to the Finals, they’ll need to reel off three straight wins, including two in Anchorage.

“We’ve dug ourselves into a deep hole,” said Wright.  “Obviously, it’s hurt us that [C Hunter] Bailes is out, but that’s an excuse.  We’ve let Anchorage dictate the game to us, and it’s burned us twice.  Now we need to go win the next three.  We’re capable of doing that, but we’re going to have to get control of the game if we’re going to do it.”

W Final - Game 2, Anchorage @ Michigan, Cadillac Place

                   1   2   3   OT   F
Anchorage          3   0   1        4
Michigan           1   1   0        2

 
Anchorage              G   A PTS PIM +/-   Michigan               G   A PTS PIM +/-

Koons           LW     1   0   1   4   0   Douglas         LW     1   1   2   0   0
Keefe           D      0   1   1   0   1   Kronstein       D      1   1   2   2  -1
Frost           C      0   1   1   0   0   Madison         D      0   1   1   4  -1
Martinsson      D      1   0   1   4   2   Lunsford        RW     0   0   0   0   0
Ericsson        RW     0   0   0   0   0   Beruschko       LW     0   0   0   0   0
Collins         LW     0   0   0   0   0   Mudrick         D      0   0   0   0  -2
Pomfret         D      0   0   0   0   1   Marlow          C      0   1   1   0   0
Bernard         C      0   0   0   0   0   Zabielski       D      0   0   0   2  -2
Frederick       D      0   1   1   0   2   Poulin          RW     0   0   0   0   0
Montrechere     RW     0   0   0   0   0   Davenport       LW     0   0   0   0  -3
Miranda         LW     0   3   3   0   3   Bergdorf        D      0   0   0   0   0
Citrone         D      0   0   0   0   0   Knight          C      0   0   0   0   0
Calligan        D      0   0   0   6   0   Tollefson       D      0   0   0   0   0
Summers         RW     1   1   2   0   3   Denison         RW     0   0   0   0  -3
Bellmore        C      1   1   2   0   3   Cage            C      0   0   0   2  -3
----------------------------------------   ----------------------------------------
TOTALS                 4   8  12  14   3   TOTALS                 2   4   6  10  -3

Scratches:
ANC:  Zhlotkin, Druzek, Trammell
MIC:  Bailes (inj), Berlinger, Bullock, Eberlein

 
Anchorage           SH    SV    G    Sv%
----------------------------------------
Worthington         23    21    2  0.913

Michigan            SH    SV    G    Sv%
----------------------------------------
Lundquist           39    35    4  0.897

 

First Period
------------

GOALS:
00:42  MIC  Douglas PP (Marlow, Kronstein)
10:45  ANC  Martinsson (Frederick, Miranda)
16:50  ANC  Summers (Bellmore, Miranda)
18:52  ANC  Koons PP (Frost, Keefe)

PENALTIES:
00:32  ANC  Koons 2:00 (Diving)
01:43  ANC  Calligan 2:00 (Roughing)
07:33  MIC  Kronstein 2:00 (Tripping)
08:09  ANC  Martinsson 2:00 (Unsportsmanlike Conduct)
08:29  ANC  Koons 2:00 (Roughing)
17:19  MIC  Zabielski 2:00 (Holding the Stick)

Second Period
-------------

GOALS:
13:24  MIC  Kronstein PP (Douglas, Madison)

PENALTIES:
09:57  ANC  Calligan 4:00 (Unsportsmanlike Conduct)
19:54  ANC  Martinsson 2:00 (Diving)

Third Period
------------

GOALS:
01:59  ANC  Bellmore (Summers, Miranda)

PENALTIES:
17:01  MIC  Madison 4:00 (Elbowing)
19:50  MIC  Cage 2:00 (Interference)


 
SHOTS
------
                   1   2   3   OT   F
Anchorage         18  10  11       39
Michigan          11   6   6       23

 
POWER PLAYS
-----------

Anchorage        1 for 4
Michigan         2 for 6

 
INJURIES
--------

None

2018 SHL Division Playoff – Game 1

Western Division Series

ANCHORAGE IGLOOS 3, MICHIGAN GRAY WOLVES 1

The Western playoff is shaping up as a contest of momentum vs. body of work.  Based on their season records, the Michigan Gray Wolves entered the series as strong favorites, having finished 14 points clear of the division.  But the Anchorage Igloos came in hot, going 10-1-1 over the last three weeks of the regular season.  Meanwhile, the Wolves hadn’t played a truly meaningful game in weeks, and they lost leading scorer Hunter Bailes to injury.

“[Michigan is] still the favorite, but they’ve got to be a little nervous,” said Igloos coach Sam Castor.  “If we can steal one on their ice, they might just start to panic.”

The Igloos took a big step toward Castor’s goal in today’s Game 1.  Anchorage came into Cadillac Place, dictated the pace, and walked away with a 3-1 win.

“See any knees shaking over the other clubhouse?” joked Castor.  “Bet they didn’t see that coming.”

Anchorage came out firing in a frenetic first period.  The Igloos unloaded 21 shots on Wolves netminder Dirk Lundquist.  Only one got through – a top-shelf shot from LW Les Collins to finish a two-man breakaway – but that was enough to give Anchorage the lead at the end of the frame.

The second period was a more sedate affair, as Michigan asserted its trapping defensive style and slowed the game down.  Both teams combined managed only 17 shots in the period, and the Igloos held onto their 1-0 lead.

Midway through the third period, Wolves LW Scot Davenport scored on a power play to tie things up.  But the stalemate lasted less than a minute, as Igloos RW Ben Summers deflected a Dave Frederick slapper past a screened Lundquist to reclaim the lead.  A minute and a half later, Summers struck again on a wraparound that banked off the far post and went in. Anchorage was able to cruise to victory from there.

“I definitely need to tighten up my game,” said Lundquist afterward.  “I let in a couple of softies, which isn’t like me at all.  But tip of the cap to [the Igloos]; they played hard and really tilted the ice, especially in the first.”

Michigan coach Ron Wright said that his team needs to get its mojo back in Game 2.  “We’ve had the division on lock for so long that we lost our edge,” Weight said after the game.  “Castor’s boys came in here and took it to us, and we weren’t ready.  We’d better be ready next time, or this is going to be a short series.”

W Final - Game 1, Anchorage @ Michigan, Cadillac Place

                   1   2   3   OT   F
Anchorage          1   0   2        3
Michigan           0   0   1        1

 
Anchorage              G   A PTS PIM +/-   Michigan               G   A PTS PIM +/-

Koons           LW     0   0   0   0   0   Douglas         LW     0   0   0   0   0
Keefe           D      0   0   0   2   1   Kronstein       D      0   0   0   0  -1
Frost           C      0   0   0   0   0   Madison         D      0   0   0   2  -1
Martinsson      D      0   1   1   0   1   Lunsford        RW     0   0   0   0  -1
Ericsson        RW     0   0   0   0   0   Beruschko       LW     0   0   0   0  -1
Collins         LW     1   0   1   4   1   Mudrick         D      0   0   0   0  -1
Pomfret         D      0   1   1   0   1   Marlow          C      0   0   0   0   0
Bernard         C      0   0   0   0   1   Zabielski       D      0   1   1   0  -1
Frederick       D      0   1   1   0   1   Poulin          RW     0   0   0   2   0
Montrechere     RW     0   1   1   4   1   Davenport       LW     1   0   1   4  -2
Miranda         LW     0   0   0   0   2   Bergdorf        D      0   0   0   0  -1
Citrone         D      0   0   0   0   1   Knight          C      0   1   1   0  -1
Calligan        D      0   0   0   2   1   Tollefson       D      0   0   0   0  -1
Summers         RW     2   0   2   0   2   Denison         RW     0   0   0   0  -2
Bellmore        C      0   1   1   0   2   Cage            C      0   0   0   0  -2
----------------------------------------   ----------------------------------------
TOTALS                 3   5   8  12   3   TOTALS                 1   2   3   8  -3

Scratches:
ANC:  Zhlotkin, Druzek, Trammell
MIC:  Bailes (inj), Berlinger, Bullock, Eberlein

 
Anchorage           SH    SV    G    Sv%
----------------------------------------
Worthington         31    30    1  0.968

Michigan            SH    SV    G    Sv%
----------------------------------------
Lundquist           42    39    3  0.929

 

First Period
------------

GOALS:
05:28  ANC  Collins (Montrechere)

PENALTIES:
11:01  ANC  Montrechere 2:00 (Holding the Stick)
11:34  MIC  Davenport 2:00 (Tripping)
19:13  ANC  Montrechere 2:00 (Hooking)
19:28  ANC  Calligan 2:00 (Tripping)

Second Period
-------------

GOALS:
None


PENALTIES:
None


Third Period
------------

GOALS:
09:02  MIC  Davenport PP (Zabielski, Knight)
09:58  ANC  Summers (Frederick, Martinsson)
11:37  ANC  Summers (Bellmore, Pomfret)

PENALTIES:
01:23  ANC  Collins 2:00 (Hooking)
01:44  MIC  Davenport 2:00 (Elbowing)
04:40  MIC  Poulin 2:00 (Hooking)
06:37  ANC  Collins 2:00 (Tripping)
06:40  MIC  Madison 2:00 (Tripping)
08:03  ANC  Keefe 2:00 (Roughing)


 
SHOTS
------
                   1   2   3   OT   F
Anchorage         21  10  11       42
Michigan          14   7  10       31

 
POWER PLAYS
-----------

Anchorage        0 for 4
Michigan         1 for 6

 
INJURIES
--------

None

 

Eastern Division Series

QUEBEC TIGRES 2, HAMILTON PISTOLS 1 (OT)

Coming into the Eastern playoffs, the Hamilton Pistols were hoping to turn the game into a shooting gallery, while the Quebec Tigres were hoping that defense and goaltending would prevail.  Each team got some of what it wanted in Game 1.  The Pistols generated the high-volume offense they were looking for, outshooting the Tigres 46-22.  But thanks to an outstanding performance from goalie Riki Tiktuunen and some good work on the power play, Quebec emerged with a 2-1 win in overtime.

“Riki really saved our bacon in this one,” said Tigres LW Walt Camernitz.  “We were outplayed on just about every level, but Riki kept us in it.  Make no mistake, though, we have to get better.”

Quebec drew first blood in the game six and a half minutes into the first period, with Camernitz banging home a slapper past Pistols goalie Lasse Koskinen in the dying seconds of a power play.  A couple minutes later, Hamilton’s Calvin Frye beat Tiktuunen on the glove side to tie the score at 1 apiece.

The next two periods saw an onslaught of offense from the Pistols, who outshot Quebec 25-9 in the second and third periods combined.  The middle of the third period was a particularly hairy stretch for the Tigres, as they took four straight penalties.  Fortunately for the home team, Tiktuunen stood on his head and answered every Hamilton blast.  He got a bit of help from the pipes, as the Pistols rang the iron twice in the last six minutes of regulation, including a blistering shot from LW Steven Alexander that actually dented the crossbar.

“I’m still not sure how we made it to OT,” said Camernitz.  “It felt like we were under siege the whole time.”

In the extra session, the Pistols kept firing and Tiktuunen kept stopping them.  As the extra session wore on, the penalty luck began to shift Quebec’s way.  Frye was sent off for cross-checking just under eight minutes into overtime.  The Pistols managed to kill that one off, but no sooner had that penalty ended than D Craig Werner was whistled for interference.

The Pistols penalty killers were worn down (and Werner, one of their top PK men, was in the box), and they were unable to stop the Tigres from crashing the net.  LW Stellan Fisker faked a shot from a sharp angle, then fired a pass to RW Rupert MacDiarmid at the top of the crease.  MacDiarmid had a wide-open net, and he banged it in to end the game.

“Riki was everything we needed him to be today, and thank God for that,” said Tigres coach Martin Delorme.  “In the next game, our defense will need to step up and take some of the pressure off.”

Despite losing the game, the mood in the Hamilton locker room was fairly optimistic.  “We played the game we wanted to play,” said coach Keith Shields.  “If you outshoot your opponent 2-to-1 like we did, you win that game 99 times out of 100.  In this case, you tip your cap to the goalie for a great game.  But if we can play every game like we did this time, we’re going to win it.”

E Final - Game 1, Hamilton @ Quebec, Centre Citadelle

                   1   2   3   OT   F
Hamilton           1   0   0    0   1
Quebec             1   0   0    1   1

Hamilton               G   A PTS PIM +/-   Quebec                 G   A PTS PIM +/-

Alexander       LW     0   0   0   0   1   Camernitz       LW     1   0   1   2  -1
Smyth           D      0   0   0   0   0   Workman         D      0   1   1   0   0
Frye            C      1   0   1   2   1   Zarkovich       C      0   0   0   0   0
Risch           D      0   0   0   0   0   McKinley        D      0   0   0   0   0
Lafayette       RW     0   1   1   0   1   Mirac           RW     0   1   1   0  -1
Gunnarson       LW     0   0   0   0   0   Fisker          LW     0   1   1   2   0
Mulligan        D      0   0   0   2   1   Ilyushin        C      0   0   0   0  -1
Constantine     C      0   0   0   0   0   Jones           D      0   0   0   0  -1
Werner          D      0   0   0   4   1   Robinson        RW     0   0   0   0   0
Patterson       RW     0   0   0   0   0   MacDiarmid      LW     1   0   1   0   0
Campbell        LW     0   0   0   0   0   Pugliese        D      0   0   0   0   0
Glasco          D      0   0   0   2   0   Kalashnikov     D      0   0   0   2   0
Zalmanis        C      0   0   0   0   0   Pentti          RW     0   0   0   0   0
Soforenko       LW     0   0   0   0   0   Miller          C      0   0   0   2   0
Dyomin          D      0   0   0   0   0   Wesson          D      0   0   0   0  -1
----------------------------------------   ----------------------------------------
TOTALS                 1   1   2  10   1   TOTALS                 2   3   5   8  -1

Scratches:
HAM:  Kratz, Jennings, Rodney
QUE:  Shovshenkov, Zhzhynov, Kane

Hamilton            SH    SV    G    Sv%
----------------------------------------
Koskinen            22    20    2  0.909

Quebec              SH    SV    G    Sv%
----------------------------------------
Tiktuunen           46    45    1  0.978


First Period
------------

GOALS:
06:29  QUE  Camernitz PP (Mirac, Workman)
08:57  HAM  Frye (Lafayette)

PENALTIES:
04:41  HAM  Werner 2:00 (Hooking)

Second Period
-------------

GOALS:
None


PENALTIES:
15:23  HAM  Mulligan 2:00 (Roughing)

Third Period
------------

GOALS:
None


PENALTIES:
05:23  HAM  Glasco 2:00 (Holding the Stick)
06:55  QUE  Kalashnikov 2:00 (Holding the Stick)
07:25  QUE  Camernitz 2:00 (Tripping)
10:29  QUE  Miller 2:00 (Roughing)
11:46  QUE  Fisker 2:00 (Clipping)

Overtime
--------

GOALS:
10:41  QUE  MacDiarmid PP (Fisker)

PENALTIES:
07:48  HAM  Frye 2:00 (Cross-checking)
10:00  HAM  Werner 2:00 (Interference)


SHOTS
------
                   1   2   3   OT   F
Hamilton           8   8  17   13  46
Quebec             5   4   5    8  22

POWER PLAYS
-----------

Hamilton         0 for 4
Quebec           2 for 5

INJURIES
--------

None

Pistols, Tigres Make Playoff Debut

There was a changing of the guard in the East this season.  The two previous division champions, the Washington Galaxy and the Hershey Bliss, finished fourth and fifth this season, respectively.  The teams that will be doing battle instead are both new to postseason play; in fact, neither of them had even finished with a winning record before.  Not only that, the Quebec Tigres and Hamilton Pistols are the first non-American teams to make the playoffs.

“I’ll bet if you’d asked a thousand people before the season started, not one of them would have picked the two of us to get this far,” said Tigres LW Walt Camernitz.

Quebec and Hamilton both finished the season with 81 points (the Tigres will have home-ice advantage in this series because they recorded more wins).  But in how they got there, and what strengths they bring to this matchup, the teams couldn’t be more different.

Steven Alexander

The Pistols thrived this season on a high-powered, fast-paced offense.  For the first half of the season, they led the league in goals (they wound up with 210, which was good for third).  They had two of the league’s top five goal scorers (LW Steven Alexander with 56 and C Calvin Frye with 40), while RW Claude Lafayette tied for the lead in assists with 73.  “We’re a team that thrives on speed, obviously,” said coach Keith Shields.  “I tell my guys, just put the puck on net and good things will happen.”

Martin Delorme

The Tigres, meanwhile, are happiest when they’re able to slow the game down and frustrate their opponents’ rhythm and momentum.  Coach Martin Delorme coached the Michigan Gray Wolves before returning to his home province, and he modeled his Quebec squad in the Wolves’ image.  “Our ideal game is a 1-0 victory,” said Delorme.  “If you can deny the opponent shots, you deny them the chance for goals.  And if you can deny entry to the zone, you deny the chance for shots.”

Quebec’s defense held opponents to just under 27 shots per game, second only to the Wolves.  The Tigres’ defense isn’t studded with big names (their top blueliner is arguably rookie Laurie Workman), but they bring a dogged determination and an all-for-one-and-one-for-all work ethic to every game.

One thing both teams have in common is a Finnish-born rising star between the pipes.  The Tigres are relying on 23-year-old Riki Tiktuunen, the stalwart who has established himself among the league’s elite in his third season in the SHL.  His .930 save percentage is second only to Michigan’s Dirk Lundquist, while his 2.03 GAA is the fourth-best mark in the league.  “The best think about Riki is that he doesn’t get rattled,” said Camernitz.  “We could be up by 10 or down by 10, and you couldn’t tell the difference by looking at him.  I don’t know if he’s a Zen guy or what, but he’s so calm it’s almost scary.”

The Pistols, meanwhile, have 21-year-old Lasse Koskinen.  Last season, Koskinen nearly won Rookie of the Year honors after a highly impressive debut campaign.  This year, he took his game up to the next level, going 28-20-4 with a 2.46 GAA and a .921 save percentage.  “I honestly think Koski’s going to be the best goalie in the league someday,” said Shields.  Unlike Tiktuunen, Koskinen is much more demonstrative with his emotion, freely showing his joy after big wins and his frustration after tough losses.  “We like having a goalie who’s a human being, not a robot,” said Alexander.

If momentum is a factor in this series, the advantage goes to Quebec.  Hamilton went 3-10-0 over their last 13 games of the season, while Quebec won three games in the last week of the season alone, including a 3-0 win over the Pistols on the last day of the regular season to claim the division title.  Shields doesn’t think that his team’s recent slump will be a factor, however.  “That’s the beautiful thing about the playoffs; the slate gets wiped clean,” the Pistols coach said.  “All that matters is the next five games.”

Old Rivals Prepare to Face Off In West Playoff

Before the season, most SHL observers took it for granted that the Michigan Gray Wolves and Anchorage Igloos would wind up facing each other in the Western playoff series.  They are widely regarded as the best teams in the division, and have taken turns winning the division since the SHL’s inception.  As it turns out, the Wolves and Igloos did make the postseason, but the race didn’t unfold quite as expected.

Michigan led the West from wire-to-wire, and were never seriously threatened along the way.  As usual, the Wolves’ success was built on its dominating, smothering defense; they allowed only 24.7 shots per game on average, more than two shots fewer than their closest competitor.  This allowed the team to thrive despite the fact that goaltender Dirk “The Bear” Lundquist wasn’t quite up to his usual exceptional standards (38-12-4, 1.69 GAA, .936 save percentage).

Ron Wright

“We’ve succeeded because we’ve adhered to our core identity,” said Wolves coach Ron Wright.  “We haven’t forgotten that greatness is purchased with blood, sweat, and hard work.  Will over skill, that’s what our team is about.”

Anchorage, meanwhile, experienced a much bumpier path to the playoffs.  For much of the season, the Igloos seemed to be suffering the hangover of  their upset loss to the Hershey Bliss in last year’s Finals.  They struggled to keep their head above the .500 waterline for the first half of the season, with the upstart competitors in Seattle and Saskatchewan nipping at their heels.  It got bad enough at one point that coach Sam Castor called out his team for their lackadaisical effort.  But they finally got their season turned around after the trading deadline, going 19-3-2 down the stretch to make the playoffs going away.

Jake Frost

“It took us a long time, too long, for us to get our heads in the right place,” said C Jake Frost, who led the team with 46 goals.  “But we know that it’s not how you start, it’s how you finish.  We’ve rediscovered ourselves and our best hockey just at the right time.  We’re confident that we can match up against any other team in the league, which is good, because Michigan’s the best there is.”

On paper, the Wolves are the strong favorites in this series; they finished 14 points ahead of Anchorage, and Wright has his team focused on the goal of being the first ever to win multiple Vandys.  But there’s more to the story than a cursory glance at the standings might suggest.  Anchorage and Michigan split their regular-season series, with each club winning 3 of 4 on its own ice.

“No one in this locker room is taking this matchup for granted,” said Wolves D “Mad Max” Madison.  “We finished ahead of them, sure, but that doesn’t mean anything.  They always play their best hockey when they’re playing us, and we do the same against.  This series is going to be an all-out war, and it could swing either way.”

Hunter Bailes

If there’s one thing that might swing the series in Anchorage’s favor, it’s their health.  The Igloos will have all of their regular starters available for this series, while the Wolves suffered a major injury during the last week of the regular.  On Thursday, C Hunter Bailes exited Michigan’s 5-4 win over Saskatchewan after taking a slash to his right arm.  He was later diagnosed with an upper-body injury, and is expected to miss the entire first round of the playoffs.  Bailes’ injury is a major blow to Michigan’s offense, as he led the team in goals with 35.

Wright says that he isn’t concerned about having to face the Igloos without Bailes.  “Look, our team doesn’t rise or fall on a single guy, not Hunter or even The Bear,” the coach told reporters.  “Our success is built on total team effort, with everyone contributing.  Would I rather have him in there?  Sure. But are we supposed to give up or run away crying because Bailes is hurt?  That’s ridiculous.  We’ve got everything we need to win this series, as long as we go out there and play like we know how.”