Conn’s OT Winner Ties Series at Two

Story by Gary Mark, photos by Tim Prothero

September 14, 2010
Peterborough, Ontario

Craig Conn’s overtime goal with 1:27 left to play in period four, lifted the New Westminster Salmonbellies to a 9-8 win over the Peterborough Lakers to tie the Mann cup at two games each. Their backs were not to the wall so to speak, but the Salmonbellies knew that a loss tonight would require them to win the next three games if they were to raise this season’s Championship trophy. Needless to say this win was huge for them. At the same time, the win tonight puts the 2010 Mann Cup down to the best 2 out of 3 games that remain.

Game four started with both teams playing rather tentative. Power plays on the night were very few and far between as both teams knew the importance of this game four. All of the shenanigans of games one through three were left on the floor at the completion of game three. Aside from a couple of very minor instances, both teams played hard, played fast, and most importantly, played relatively smart.

Tyler Richards got the nod in net for New Westminster, as the Salmonbellies continued their goalie rotation. Richards played extremely well in the win, stopping 41 of 49 shots. At the other end, Mike Thompson, started his fourth consecutive game for the Lakers and also played well stopping 31 of 40 shots. The last 10 minutes of the thirsd period saw no scoring from either team, a testament to both goalies’ play on this night.

The game was close throughout the first period and a half when a span of five minutes changed the flow of the game in favour of New Westminster. The Salmonbellies killed off almost two full minutes of a five on three power play for the Lakers. As soon as the Bellies were back to full strength, Craig Conn spotted Cliff Smith just coming off the bench and breaking down the middle in the Lakers zone. Smith caught Conn’s offering in full stride, and buried a shot past Thompson before being knocked to the turf. The entire Salmonbellies bench rose to their feet. From that point on the Bellies played with much more confidence.

As mentioned, Thompson and Richards closed the door on any chances that they faced for the better half of the third. This set up the second Overtime game in the four meetings so far in this series. Cliff Smith opened the Overtime scoring with a goal just 2:29 in. Then John Grant would tie the game once again shortly after at the 3:31 mark. That set up the dynamic finish, when Craig Conn took a pass from Ilija Gajic. Conn would cross from the right side of the floor moving to his right toward the middle. Just past the center of the floor and just around the dotted line, Conn unleashed a shot to the top left corner of the net, and past Thompson.

There were still some tense moments in the last 1:27 as the Lakers pulled Thompson but could not get the game tying goal. This win, as mentioned now ties the series at two games each. The two teams will battle for their third consecutive night again tomorrow night at 7:45 pm EST. We also know now that there will indeed be a game six on Friday night as well.

Our web cast for both games, will be on air at approximately 7:15 EST.

The Pointstreak, game sheet can be viewed Right Here

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