WATERLOO – You name a type of lead, the Nationals kicked it away. Two-goal bulge after the first period? Gone in a flash. One-goal edge after 40 minutes? See ya later.
Even a final-minute-of-regulation advantage wasn’t safe.
“We talk about things we have to do to prevent goals against and (some) veteran guys don’t do it,” upset London GM/coach Pat Powers said. “It’s ridiculous. Guys say they want to win and they make the same mental mistakes time and again. We show them video and talk about it. It’s extremely frustrating when we have a game in hand and play that well, but every time we make a mistake, we let the puck in our net.”
TOUGH FINISH: Tied in an anything-goes third period, the Nationals earned a power play with 2:17 left in regulation. Powers used his timeout and Cal Davis, who hadn’t scored in a month-and-a-half provided the go-ahead tally 22 seconds later.
That’s when London had to lock it down.
But Nationals d-man Austin Jeffers was called for a pretty obvious hold in the corner. Waterloo used its timeout and Jeff Schrattner came through with the equalizer with just 16.2 seconds on the clock and the goaltender out for an extra attacker.
“We shouldn’t be in that situation,” Powers said. “We should be stick on puck and keep the puck away from our net instead of bear-hugging a guy. We’re down 6-on-4 and our penalty kill executes as if it’s a 5-on-4 – and it’s in our net.
“Some of those goals (have to be stopped by Zach Springer). We pre-scout them. We see what they did in Game 1, and once again, we get burned on it.”
The Siskins have been cardiac kids for a lot of their playoff run. They don’t get too wound up when they fall behind. That experience has served them well so far.
“We like to come back,” Spaedt said. “It’s common. Personally, I don’t like (having to) come back, but for some reason, everybody else does. We’ll keep doing it if we have to. It takes four and (we know) it’ll be a tough, hard series.”
REBOUND TIME: The Nationals have plenty of Sutherland Cup chops. They have a handful of players who have been this far before, so they’re not in panic mode.
But it’s pretty clear they have to figure out how to win Game 3 or they’re going to end up disappointed like they were in the 2016 and ’17 finals. “We’ll come back next one and get it,” Davis said. “We’re not too worried.”
Rearguard Noah Tooke echoed those sentiments.
“We need to find a way and I think we will,” he said. “We’ll regroup here. I believe in every single guy in our room. We have a special group that can do special things. I don’t doubt that at all.”
CLUTCH CITY: Waterloo was in pretty dire straights in the final two minutes, even after the Jeffers penalty. Their usual trigger man – Alex Lycett – was injured during the contest.
“We were just setting up a play (during the timeout),” Spaedt said, “and luckily, Schrattner took it (to left) and fired it (right over Springer’s glove). You just battle through.”
In overtime, Schrattner found Spaedt with a bouncing pass and he was able to knock it down. He fired across his body, too, to beat the Nats goaltender.
“I’ve been struggling lately,” Spaedt said. “To get that one in OT, it’s a big momentum swing for me and a confidence boost.”
The Nats have to find their stride now. They outshot the Siskins 39-29. They were 2-4 on the power play and if Davis gets cooking offensively, London will score a handful.
But they have to find a way to contain Waterloo centre Owen Lane.
He had six points in Game 1 and followed it up with two more Sunday, including a clutch breakaway goal in the third.
Siskins 5, Nationals 4 (OT)
(Waterloo leads best-of-seven championship final 2-0)
Waterloo goals: Brett Schaefer, Matthew Prucha, Owen Lane, Jeff Schrattner, Sam Spaedt
London goals: Christian Polillo, George Diaco, Kyle Dawson, Cal Davis
Next: Game 3 is Wednesday, 7 p.m. at Western Fair.