The Waterloo Siskins rallied for a 5-3 win and 3-2 series lead in Game 5 of the Sutherland Cup Saturday night in front of crowd of 916 at Western Fair Sports Centre.
The Siskins were outshooting the Nationals 20-7 near the midway point of the second period, but trailed 3-2 going into the third thanks in part to two London breakaway goals.
Tyler Dam tied the game on a deflection at 7:21 in the third and Christian Taylor scored the eventual winner on a power play with 7:38 left in the game.
Actual scoring chances were pretty even despite the disparity in shots on goal, but assistant coach Jeff Bradley said that although the Nats definitely weren’t at their best in Game 5, they let a huge opportunity slip away.
“We’re extremely frustrated,” Bradley said. “We had a chance to go up in the series and we worked so hard to get home-ice advantage back. Even being up 3-2 after two, with the way we played, it certainly wasn’t up to our standard, but all we needed to do is have a good 20 minutes to close it out and we couldn’t do it.
“Tonight it was simply about effort and execution. We didn’t seem to get either.”
Waterloo coach Todd Hoffman was pleased with his team’s tenacity right from the start of the game, but was particularly impressed by the way the Siskins came out in the third.
“We had some good chances and we know we just have to keep putting the puck to the net,” Hoffman said. “We have to make sure Game 6 is no different. We just have to make sure our effort is at par with tonight.”
The Nats led 2-1 after the first period.
Jeff Schrattner opened the scoring for Waterloo, tapping in a loose puck after it trickled through the pads of London goalie Zachary Springer at 8:29 in the first.
Christian Polillo tied it up for London with his 14th goal of the playoffs at 15:05. Kyle Dawson put the Nats up 2-1, breaking in on Waterloo goalie Matt Onuska and sliding the puck under his pads at 16:20.
Alec Tiley pulled the Siskins even at 5:59 in the second on a power play, but James Turner put the Nats ahead 3-2 with his 16th of the playoffs at 7:35 when he came in alone on Onuska and backhanded the puck into the top right corner.
Sam Spaedt scored an empty-netter with 1:33 left to play.
Springer made 27 saves for London and Onuska stopped 22 for Waterloo.
Game 6 is 1:30 p.m. Sunday at Waterloo Memorial Recreation Complex.