(KINGSVILLE, ON) – The Toronto Attack attempted to ruffle the feathers of the Kingsville Kings last weekend, as games one and two of their GMHL South Division quarter-final came to fruition.
On Sunday, during game one in Kingsville, both teams were guilty of a lack of discipline, as the Attack forced their way under the Kings’ skin. And, at times, the home team fell for it.
The result was an 8-4 win for Kingsville, but in the second period, Toronto briefly led the game and even had the score tied early in the final frame.
The Attack struck first, just five minutes into the game, with a goal from John Schillaci. But, Brendan Sorrels and Marek Malinsky responded for the Kings.
In the second, Toronto briefly took command as Justin Pelowich-Pickup knotted the game then Connor Ventura moved his club ahead of the home team. It did not take Kingsville long to respond, however, as Adam Kusior and Ondrej Tomek each sniped to retake the lead.
The second half of the middle frame descended into chaos, and the two teams were awarded 37 minutes in penalties in a 10-minute stretch.
A minute into the third, Ventura struck again to tie the game, but mounting pressure from the Kings led to four answered goals and a 1-0 lead in the best-of-five series for the locals.
The winning goal was another from Tomek, as he was followed by Miroslav Hylena, Zach McDonough, and Brendan Mackenzie with a trifecta of insurance markers.
Kingsville’s Wes Werner took the win in net, stopping 26 of 30 shots, while Sam Procopio turned aside 41 chances at the other end.
“I thought our game at home was a little sloppy the first two periods,” said head coach Michael Guzzo. “Making mental mistakes with the puck, bad penalties; we weren’t very sharp. But, we had a good third and got the win.”
The second game, on Monday in Toronto, was an entirely different affair.
With a minor course-correction after the first game, the Kings played with much stronger discipline and held their foes at bay in an 8-3 win. The Kings jumped out to an early 2-0 lead with first period blasts from Mackenzie and Hylena, in what was a penalty-less frame for Kingsville.
In the middle stanza, Dan Leach extended the lead with an unassisted marker, but was answered by Ventura with his own unassisted, short-handed goal.
McDonough made the score 4-1, before Toronto’s Daniel Petukhov shortened the lead to two. Blake Naida sniped on the power play and Hylena added another blast for Kingsville to close out the period.
In the third, McKinnon and Kusior scored for the Kings, while Liam Morris added one more for Toronto. Werner picked up his second consecutive win of the playoffs, turning aside 32 shots, while Procopio had another busy night in net, blocking 47 in the loss.
“We played smart on the road,” said coach Guzzo. “[We] kept our heads, didn’t allow them to get us off our game.”
The next day, the GMHL announced its regular season award recipients. Second-year veteran Naida was honoured by the league as the top defensive forward.
“Well deserved for Blake,” lauded his coach. “[He] plays every game hard and with passion. Just goes to show how respected around the league he is.”
Naida was acquired from the Seguin Huskies in the summer of 2015. In 105 regular season league games, the Brooklyn, OH, native has scored 41 goals and registered 94 points.
Alaskan Tyler Garcia was named the runner-up for the top defenceman award after putting up a 60-point year with the Kings.
With the win on Monday, and taking a 2-0 series lead, the Kings could possibly finish the best-of-five quarter-final at home this coming Friday.
“We need to get on them quick and early and play smart hockey,” said Guzzo. “Stay out of the after-whistle stuff, don’t let them get in our heads, and capitalize on our opportunities.”
Game three commences at 8:00pm at Kingsville Arena.