Judd Blackwater returned to the Reign lineup after a 5 game absence. Photo courtesy: SceneByKimberly

The Sin Bin’s Kelly Cup Playoff Coverage is presented by Kalwei Law Firm

After getting soundly beaten by the Allen Americans by a score of 8-2 in game one of the Western Conference Finals everyone expected the Ontario Reign to play a much better game in game two on Monday night. Mission accomplished as Ontario shut out the Americans 3-0 before a small crowd of 2922 at the Allen Event Center.

The game started out with Allen getting lots of scoring opportunities as they out shot Ontario 18-6 in the first period. The first big difference between game one and two for Ontario was the play of goalie Joe Cannata, who was thrust into game one in relief after having missed a month with an injury and gave up five goals in 51 minutes of play. That must have knocked off all of the rust as he was the difference maker last night especially in the first period when Allen dominated the play.

Reign goalie Sam Cannata makes a save in game 2 of the Western Final. Photo Courtesy: Lauren Lyssy

After a scoreless first period another difference from game one to game two happened when Ontario scored the first goal of the game on a shot from the slot by Garry Nunn. Judd Blackwater, who was playing in his first game since being injured and missing the last five games, had an assist on the Nunn goal.  Scoring the first goal has been a great predictor of victory for both of these teams in the playoffs. Combined they have won eleven of twelve games (92%) when scoring first.

Another big difference from game one to game two was special teams. Allen won the special teams battle in game one as the Americans were 3-6 on the power play and held the Reign scoreless (0-5) on their power play opportunities. Last night was just the opposite as Allen went 0-4 on the power play and Ontario was 1-5.

Despite out shooting Ontario 35-24 the Americans could never solve Joe Cannata who recorded just his second shut out of the year.

It is difficult to put your finger on exactly what went wrong for Allen. The passes weren’t as crisp and there were a lot of bouncing pucks as the ice conditions seemed to be affected by the 90 degree temperatures. It also appeared the Reign adjusted how they were entering the Allen zone from game one and that subtle change put additional pressure on Allen.

Finally, Allen did not have as many guys driving the net and screening the goalie as they did in game one. Cannata seemed to have a good look at most Allen shots. Whatever it was, it gave Ontario a split in Allen as they now head home for the next three games which will be played on Thursday, Saturday and Sunday.

STEVE MARTINSON’S POST GAME COMMENTS:

– That obviously is not what we were looking for. The difference tonight is their goalie was much better after giving up five goals last night. He saw every shot that we took and that was the difference in the game.

– We did not get in front of their goalie. Their defensemen blocked us out and kept us from getting in front of the net. We just didn’t pay the price tonight. We will have to play a more greasy game on Thursday if we expect to win.

– We can’t rely on shooting the puck and scoring. We have to get in front of the goalie and create screens to be successful. At this time of year, when you are playing the best teams, if you don’t have your “A” game you are not going to win and I don’t think we had our “A” game tonight.

– Nobody thought it was going to be easy tonight but we did not play as determined in this game as we did in the first game. Maybe we thought we would make some plays and the puck would be in the net but that was not the case. Hopefully that sinks in and Thursday we are back to our physical, hard working game with traffic in front and pucks on the net.

– I will review the tape of the game and look for how many times we had the opportunity to get to the front of the net and didn’t do it. How many times Ontario was able to interfere and hold us off in front of their net.

– They had a couple of goals disallowed and I thought our goalie was interfered with on one of their goals but that had nothing to do with why we didn’t score.

OTHER COMMENTS:

–  Defensemen Kevin Young and Konrad Abeltshauser combined for eleven shots in the game. Forwards Greger Hanson, Spencer Asuchuk, Chris Crane and Jamie Schaaafsma combine for just four shots.

– With the loss last night Allen’s playoff winning percentage fell to .692 which is still the best among the final four teams. Allen is now 9-4 in the playoffs while Ontario is 9-5.

– Ontario’s Matt Register had an empty net shorthanded goal last night and continues to lead all defensemen in the playoffs with fifteen points (7 goals 8 assists). Konrad Abeltshauser is second with eleven points.

– The loss last night ended the Americans winning streak as they had never lost a game two in the  playoffs since Steve Martinson became coach. Their game two record now stands at 8-1. If you are wondering about game three playoff record it is 6-2 overall and this year it is 1-1. Allen lost game three to Tulsa in the first round and won game three against Rapid City in the second round.

DID YOU KNOW: Last night was the first time Allen has been shut out in a playoff game since Steve Martinson has been coach of the team. The last time an Allen team has been shut out in a playoff game was April 7, 2012. It was the year the Texas Brahmas bounced Allen out of the playoffs in the first round in six games. Game five was at the Allen Event Center and Allen goalie Marco Cousineau stopped 19 of 20 shots only to be outdone by Texas goalie Brad Fogal who stopped 23 of 23 to get the 1-0 shut out victory.

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