In London, Andrei Loktionov scored 59 seconds into overtime to salvage a 5-4 win over the Knights in Game 4 of the Rogers OHL Western Conference Championship Series.
The Spitfires held a three-goal lead in the third period but needed overtime to claim the win and take a 3-1 lead in the series.
“I thought our first two periods were our best periods of the playoffs,” said Spitfires’ coach Bob Boughner. “You’ve got to give London credit - they came out guns a blazing in the third. I thought we just went into a defensive shell.”
Dale Mitchell opened the scoring early in the first period and then Lane MacDermid, Greg Nemisz and Eric Wellwood scored to push the Spitfires to a 4-1 lead late in the second period.
John Carlson scored early in the third period to start a comeback for the Knights and then Michael Del Zotto and Carlson counted a little more than a minute apart late in the third period to force overtime for the fourth consecutive game in the series. Justin Taylor also scored for the Knights.
“The best part about our team is how good we work together and how good of a team we are in the room and on the ice,” Carlson said. “We just tried to get pucks to the net and see what happens. Sure enough, one of my shots went in there and it kind of jump-started the crowd and the team. I think everyone played great out there we just didn’t get the bounces at the end.”
In overtime, Loktionov picked up a pass from Taylor Hall on the side boards and fired a wrist shot that eluded London goalie Darryl Borden for the game-winner.
“We cycled it off the wing and got a shot from Loktionov,” said Mitchell, who along with Hall had two assists in the game. “And that was the game. We cycled the puck throughout the game like we wanted. It’s all about momentum. We knew that the first five minutes was going to be the key in overtime.”
Borden made his first start of the playoffs and allowed five goals on 30 shots while Andrew Engelage allowed four goals on 43 shots for the win.
The Spitfires host Game 5 on Wednesday and would clinch the series with a win while the Knights need a victory to extend their season.
“It’s obviously tough after our loss here tonight,” Carlson said. “I think we just have to look at it like a game. When we go down 3-1 are you out of it yet? I don’t think so. We’ve got the team to do it and we’ve won in their building before. It’s going to have to start on Wednesday night.”
The Rogers OHL Eastern Conference Championship Series between the Belleville Bulls and Brampton Battalion continues on Tuesday in Brampton. The Battalion lead that series 2-1.
(Nathan also is a writer for Maineiacs Post to Post and the Maine Hockey Journal. He can be reached at email@example.com)