Posted: Mar 31, 2013 10:22 AM by IceGators Media Relations
The Cardiac Crocodilians pulled off yet another dramatic comeback, and this one came when they needed it the most.
After trailing the Mississippi RiverKings by two midway through the third period, the IceGators scored twice in five minutes to force overtime. Matt Miller to scored 68 seconds into the extra frame give the IceGators a 5-4 overtime victory in the third and final game of this quarterfinal series.
The IceGators will now take on the Huntsville Havoc in the SPHL semifinals. The first game of that series will be played in the Cajundome Tuesday night at 7:05 P. M.
"What a comeback!" said IceGators coach Kevin Kaminski. "We've done it all year long. The guys stayed positive despite going down by two, and they continued to fight. The scratched and sacrificed the body to get the win."
The IceGators and the RiverKings traded goals in the first period. Louisiana opened the scoring six minutes into the game when Jordan Foreman scored off a Marc-André Carré assist. Eleven minutes later, Kyle Lundale converted Mississippi's only powerplay of the night to tie the game.
"We talked in our pregame speech about how this was our barn," Kaminski said. "When you look at our record, we're 15-1-1 when we have the lead or are tied after the first period. We wanted to have a great start, and we got it."
Matt Harrington gave the RiverKings a 2-1 lead 4:00 into the second period. This period was arguably the worst the IceGators played all year. They were held scoreless and recorded only five shots on goal, including only one in the first twelve minutes of the frame.
"We quit skating and we quit hitting in the second," said Kaminski. "Give them credit. They came after us. We were watching the puck and not identifying our men on the ice. I thought we got our game back in the last eight minutes of the period. They just did a good job of blocking our shots. But we regained our momentum."
Mississippi held their lead until the very beginning of the third period. Shawn McNeil tied the game on a powerplay 13 seconds into the final regulation frame. Shortly afterward, the RiverKings regained control of the game. Darrell Stoddard and Tom Craig both scored in the first four minutes of the third to give Mississippi a 4-2 lead.
The IceGators slowly climbed back into the game. Matt Robertson scored with ten minutes left in the game to cut the Louisiana deficit to a goal. Jeremy Boyer recorded the equalizer a little over five minutes later off assists from Robertson and Robert Short.
"McNeil's goal was sick!" Kaminski exclaimed. "That was an NHL goal. That was a wicked backhand just under the bar. I'm not sure if [Pittsburgh Penguin Sidney] Crosby could do that."
"Robertson's goal came off a rebound," Kaminski said. "He did a great job of getting to the net and putting it in. Boyer's goal was a hell of a shot from the point. We wanted to be physical and draw turnovers, and that's what we did to pick up those two goals"
Both teams had several scoring opportunities late in the game, but nobody could convert on them until Miller posted the game-winner.
"Miller went to the net after McNeil delayed the play," Kaminski said. "They both had great patience to make it work. The puck hit Miller's stick and it tricked in through the five-hole. ‘Real Deal McNeil' came through again and made things happen with the puck. You get rewarded when you go to the net, and Miller found that out. I told [IceGator General Manager] Louis [Dumont] on the bench that Miller was due for one, and he came through."
Kaminski said his players will finally get a day to relax before getting ready for semifinals.
"The guys need some rest," Kaminski said. "I'll be breaking down tape and doing my homework (Sunday). We'll have a team meeting and practice on Monday, and then we'll be ready to go for Tuesday."