(KINGSVILLE, ON) – Last second heroics by Kingsville Kings defenseman Callum Hofford were just not enough for his team to take their first lead in the Greater Metro Junior A League final. After winning the third and fourth games of the best-of-seven series, evening the Russell Cup championship at 2 victories each, the Kings had the opportunity to put the Tottenham Steam on the brink of elimination.
Instead, Kingsville must look to Game 6, in Tottenham on Sunday, to force a final and decisive game.
The unpredictability of the refereeing has become the theme of the series and a major point of frustration to fans of both teams. Not long into Game 5, it became clear that this problem had not been rectified.
Halfway through the opening act, Kingsville seemed to take the lead on a clapper from the point by Marcel Kottek. Despite there being no whistle on the play or indication from an official that a penalty was forthcoming, the goal was called back and the Kings were assessed an interference penalty.
The period would end scoreless.
Just barely into the middle frame, Tottenham’s Austin Fischer was called for crosschecking. Fischer, a physical presence for the Steam, has been a repeat offender throughout the series and was ejected from the fourth game for butt-ending.
The Kingsville power play went to work with Ludwig Niederbach blasting a howitzer past Tottenham’s Denny Dubblestyne. The lead was short-lived, however, as Stepan Timofeyev tipped a blast from the point through Jan Pechek’s legs to knot the game at 1.
The Kings, taken aback by the quick turnaround, allowed Brandon Yorke through the defenses, who then slapped home a quick feed from Matt Fischer.
With less than four minutes to go in the frame, Kingsville was back on the power play. Hofford belted a shot from the point, surprising Dubblestyne, to draw the game at 2.
Not long into the third stanza, Mathias Gardiman ripped a rebound past Dubblestyne to give the Kings their second lead of the game. Midway through, Zack Zulkanycz was given a questionable slashing call and the Steam jumped at the opportunity.
Using a set-play off the backboards, Tottenham’s Yorke found mesh again with a one-timer. Matt Fischer regained the lead for the Steam, with just minutes remaining, stealing a defensive cough up and drilling it past Pechek’s blocker.
A mere 2.7 seconds remained in the third period, when Hofford hammered his second of the game past a sliding Dubblestyne. Off the draw, Hofford exploited the out-of-position Steam net minder, allowing the goalie to overcompensate and expose the far side of the net.
Much like Game 1, overtime slipped past with no result and the match came down to a shootout.
Hofford, Danil Burdov, and Marvin Simmons all missed their opportunities to score on the Tottenham goalie. Timofeyev and Matt Fischer were both unsuccessful for the Steam, but Graham Pickard was able to go top shelf, after getting Pechek to sprawl to the ice on a deke, giving Tottenham the victory.
Down in the series 3-2, the Kings have a chance to redeem themselves on Sunday, in Tottenham. If successful, Kingsville would host Game 7 on Monday night.