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Nationals grab win on breaks

 Nationals use breaks tying series


   Two third period goals gives London a 3-2 win over St. Thomas Stars 


  April 8, 2022


By Rob. J. Ross 

ST. THOMAS - There weren't too many breaks, but the London Nationals capitalized on their few opportunities.

The Nationals scored twice in the third period, before hanging on for a 3-2 win over the St. Thomas Stars, tying the Western Conference quarterfinal at a game each, Friday, at the Joe.

"We played really well, but we made a few mistakes. We're young and we're still learning. We can't turn the puck over. We have to get pucks in and be ready to for-check," Stars' head coach Rob Coutts said. "I think we've played, with the bodies we're missing, really well. We're getting better. We've got more confidence and the guys are playing for one another."

After London's Riley Wood opened the scoring in the first period, Tristan Roberts tapped in a cross crease pass from Ryan Cooper and Nick Houben struck on a five-on-three power play, for a 2-1 Stars' lead.

Nearing the mid point of the third period, London's Owen McGowan pounced on a turnover at the Stars' blueline and then four minutes later Rylan Bowers put the Nationals in front, 3-2.

Coutts felt London's first and third goals both went in off a skate, but the officials ruled no deliberate kick both times.

"That's playoffs, a bounce here, a bounce there. I didn't agree with the first one they scored, or the third one, but they count," Coutts said. "I thought he kicked it in, but they saw otherwise. We just have to move one. It happens fast and they have to make quick decisions. It's a bad break that we got."

The Stars out shot the Nationals, 32-27, including 13-5 in the second period, when the home side had over two minutes of a 5-on-3 advantage.

The Stars were disciplined, only giving the Nationals one power play. The Stars finished one for six with the man advantage.

"Special teams are important for us," said Coutts. "We had lots of chances and maybe if we bear down a little more, but everything gets a little tighter (in playoffs)."

The Stars were without Mathieu Paris, the team's leading scorer in the regular season, forwards Jackson Dobbin and Jack Weber and goalie Owen Willmore.

Aiden Barry made 30 saves for the Nationals.

"We've played two good games. I'm happy with where we are," Coutts said. "We'll put this in the bin and move on and be ready for tomorrow."

Game three is Saturday at London. Game four is at the Joe, 7:30 p.m. Sunday.


First round schedule

Game 1: St. Thomas 4 London 1
Game 2: London 3 St. Thomas 2
Game 3 Saturday, April 9th @ London - 7 p.m.
Game 4: Sunday, April 10th @ St. Thomas - 7:30 p.m.
Game 5: Wednesday, April 13th @ London - 7 p.m.*
Game 6: Saturday, April 16th @ St. Thomas - 7:30 p.m.*
Game 7: Sunday, April 17th @ London - 7 p.m.*
*If necessary





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