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If the London Knights are going to capture the 2013 MasterCard Memorial Cup, they will have to take the long route. The Halifax Mooseheads put a fork in London's road to the Championship Game....
Plain and simply, Halifax scored early and often in a 9-2 win over London in the fifth game of the tournament round-robin. Martin Frk scored three goals to lead all scorers, following by Darcy Ashley with two. Singles went to Ryan Falkenham, Luca Ciampini, Stefan Fournier and Brent Andrews. Seth Griffith and Matt Rupert replied for London, but those goals did not come until the Knights were already down by seven.
"It's one of those games where they jumped on us early, we were tired from playing the night before and got behind and never could come back," said Knight Coach Dale Hunter.
It was the second straight game the Knights made a goaltending change. Anthony Stolarz relieved Jake Patterson at the start of the second period, with the Knights down 5-0. It was Patterson who took over for Stolarz during Monday loss to Portland.
"I think we just left (Patterson) out to dry on the first couple, and it just got worse from there," explained veteran Seth Griffith. "It wasn't (the goalie's) fault tonight, I think the whole group of guys didn't play well as a team."
"That was bad - it wasn't a good effort," added defenceman Dakota Mermis. "We just came out flat, it not as much what (Halifax) was doing, as what we were doing - we weren't good enough tonight."
Some eyebrows may have been raised late in the game when, leading 8-2, the Mooseheads put their top powerplay on the ice during a five-on-three advantage. Mooseheads Coach Dominque Ducharme thought the Knights were getting a bit too aggressive with their stick work. "There were many powerplays where we did not put them out. At one point we thought (London) was going pretty hard on the slashing and everything else - so we decided to go back with them."
In OHL circles, the Knights have often been criticized for putting their big guns on the ice during late powerplays with the game out of reach, so it was hard for Dale Hunter to complain about the tactics used by Halifax. "I'd do the same thing if I was coaching," said Hunter. "It's a good practice time for them...they've got some big games ahead of them. We took the penalties, we're responsible for the penalties - I don't coach their team and they can put out whoever they want."
The Halifax Mooseheads and the fans that travelled with them may now become the biggest Portland Winterhawks fans in Saskatoon. A Portland win against Saskatoon Wednesday night would give Halifax a bye into Sunday's championship game. If the home team wins, then they will advance to the title game. The Portland/Saskatoon losing team plays London in Thursday's tiebreaker.
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