Feisty Fronts fall in Owen Sound
Barret Kirwin beats Marshall Frappier with the backhand in the first period as the Owen Sound Attack host the Kingston Frontenacs inside the Harry Lumley Bayshore Community Centre on Saturday, Febraury 9. Greg Cowan/The Sun Times
Sometimes the undercard steals the night.
That was certainly the case on Saturday when the Owen Sound Attack topped a feisty battle, 6-4, over the Kingston Frontenacs in front of nearly 3,000 rowdy Bayshore fans.
A couple of heavyweights played elsewhere. The Greyhounds beat the IceDogs 7-6 while the Spirit topped London 6-3 in Saginaw.
But in Owen Sound two teams who sold off most of their scoring, and have won a combined seven games since the Christmas break, punched above their weight.
Not bad for a couple of teams who only see each other twice a season.
“It’s a roller coaster of emotion. I won’t lie to you. You don’t want it to be that run-and-gun type of hockey game, but that’s what we got into a little bit and fortunately we came out on top,” said Attack assistant coach Jordan Hill after the game.
Nick Wong gets his stick on the puck and bounces it off the ice and by Andrew MacLean for the game’s first goal in the first period as the Owen Sound Attack host the Kingston Frontenacs inside the Harry Lumley Bayshore Community Centre on Saturday, Febraury 9. Greg Cowan/The Sun Times
Aidan Dudas landed the knockout punch while the teams played four-on-four hockey. Brady Lyle setup the goal with a crisp cross-seam pass that Dudas tipped into the top of the net to put Owen Sound up 5-3.
Seconds later Tyler Burnie exited the penalty box just in time to accept a breakaway pass from Ryan Cranford and beat Attack goalie Andrew MacLean to the stick-side.
Unfortunately for Burnie, who scored goals No. 4 and 5 of his season Saturday, he torpedoed the Fronts comeback by taking an unsportsmanlike penalty during his goal celebration.
Still unhappy with the call that originally put him in the box – a goaltender interference infraction for sweeping MacLean’s dropped stick into the middle of the ice – Burnie made a subtle gesture toward the official. Not subtle enough evidently.
Of course the two-straight minutes of mouthing off in the penalty box before his goal may have brought the official’s water to a boil.
The Attack were able to salt away the rest of the game, and Maksim Sushko added the exclamation point with an empty net goal.
“It’s very rare that’s for sure. It is what it is,” said Hill of Burnie taking a penalty after scoring a goal.
Burnie’s bungled celebration piled high on top of an already crazy contest.
Dawson Baker fights off a Mark Woolley check to centre the puck dangerously in front of Andrew MacLean, but right to a pair of waiting Attack backcheckers,in the first period as the Owen Sound Attack host the Kingston Frontenacs inside the Harry Lumley Bayshore Community Centre on Saturday, Febraury 9. Greg Cowan/The Sun Times
Nick Wong opened the scoring when his tipped-shot bounced off the ice and into the top of the net.
Barret Kirwin then shovelled a rebound into a gaping cage behind Fronts goalie Marshall Frappier before Brady Lyle’s power play point shot bounced off a body in front and into the net.
“Something I think tonight was open a lot was shots from the top, just the way they were killing,” Lyle said.
The Attack were one-for-six with the man advantage.
“We can’t just be throwing pucks around on the power play, we have to be making plays . . . it will come for sure,” Lyle said.
Burnie then scored his first goal of the game on a Frontenacs power play before Daylon Groulx bunted a point shot into the net and Sergey Popov scored his first goal in Owen Sound while looking like he was trying to clear the outfield wall at Duncan McLellan.
Popov’s goal gave the Attack a 4-2 lead early in the third period, but Wong’s second of the game provided the stage for a dramatic finish.
First up, Mark Woolley and Paul Larabie dropped the gloves. Woolley walloped the 19-year-old Nepean native, and had to hit to the showers early for instigating the bout.
Cue the chirping, clutching, choppiness, and finally, the Burnie calamity.
Igor Chirbikov and Ian Martin have a little after-the-whistle meeting in the first period as the Owen Sound Attack host the Kingston Frontenacs inside the Harry Lumley Bayshore Community Centre on Saturday, Febraury 9. Greg Cowan/The Sun Times
“It gets everyone engaged and it gets everyone going,” said Hill of the raucous final frame. “It dialled everyone in and gave us some energy to finish the third period.”
Lyle couldn’t put his finger on why the two teams – virtually unknown to each other – displayed such animosity.
“Two kind of youngish teams I guess. Everyone is trying to battle really hard,” he said. He credited newly-minted head coach Alan Letang with upping the intensity and pace in practice.
It’s fun to watch, but the coaching staff hopes to limit the mistakes that make the game both tantalizing and tortuous for those paid to know better.
“You want them to challenge themselves and make plays under pressure, that’s the only way they’re going to get better as a hockey player, and only way we’re going to grow as a team,” Hill said.
As for Lyle – who admitted to being the man who missed an assignment on Burnie’s breakaway out of the box – self-awareness is half the battle.
“Owning up to it is big, realizing you’ve made the mistake and learning from it will help,” he said.
Saturday night marked the second annual REACH. Shoot. Score. charity game in support of the REACH Centre of Grey-Bruce. The Attack auctioned off specially designed game-worn jerseys following to raise funds for young adults with developmental disabilities following Saturday night’s contest. The REACH Centre provides meaningful growth and interaction opportunities for individuals with intellectual and developmental disabilities once they have graduated high school.
The REACH Centre currently serves 30 young adults from across Grey and Bruce counties.
MacLean stopped 30 of 34 shots while Frappier got in front of 27 of the Attack’s 32 chances on net.
Owen Sound will next host the Barrie Colts inside the Harry Lumley Bayshore Community Centre on Wednesday, puck drop is scheduled for 7:30 p.m.