Game 2 Rebels vs. HornetsApril 6 2012 at 12:27 PM
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|HawkeyDawg (Login hawkeydawg)|
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In front of a rather disappointing crowd at the NewTecRec Centre last night (about two-thirds full), the Hornets went down to defeat at the hands of the upstart Campbellford Rebels 4-2 and now find themselves in fairly unfamiliar territory trailing the series 2-0. For the most part, Alliston stuck close to their game plan but came up against a few obstacles that they weren't exactly prepared to deal with. First, un unflappable goalie in the Rebels net and secondly, a most unorthodox game plan from the Empire League Champions. This goalie stood on his head all night long and never once seemed rattled or shaken. He drove the Hornets' frustration level to new heights as he continually challenged Allistons' top snipers. He was very adept at playing the angles and rebound management. All in all, he is exactly what you want from your tender in play-offs and he gave his team the chance to win, which is what they did. As for the unorthodox game strategy (I can't be certain if it's by design or not) but these Rebels put me in the mind of the New Jersey Devils when Jacques Lemaire was coaching. "Just get in the way and wait for your chances." Campbellford played this approach to a "tee" and skated away with a series lead that almost no one saw coming. While their forwards were quite fast, this speed rarely produced much in the way of scoring opportunities. In their own end they weren't overly good at breaking out consistently, through the neutral zone they were always getting stood up at the red or blue line and when they did break in to the offensive zone there wasn't a lot of finesse or polish around the net. Their powerplay produced almost no actual scoring chances (0-for-5 on the night) and the man-short gave up only one goal on six Hornet attempts. However, they did manage 4 goals on only 21 shots, just enough to break the hearts of the home-town faithful. As mentioned, the goalie was lights-out unconscious all night long and the possibility of an "upset" is now in the making. Are you starting to see why I drew the parallel with the NJ Devils?
In one of my previous posts, I mentioned how the Alliston vets would carry this team to victory. Well, last night it was the vets that were growing exceedingly frustrated which only compounded the Hornet's inability to find the twine. Couple that with a few vet penalties of the very dumb variety and you may very well have set the stage for an upset that would send the Rebels to the big dance for the first time ever. To lay any blame on either of Alliston's goalies would be absolutely ludicrous. Alliston stuck about as close to their game plan as possible last night. They outshot (40-21) the Rebels by a huge margin, had plenty of scoring opps, the PP set-up and executed well as always, (only this time almost nothing went in), they worked as hard as they ever have and yet they are now forced to play from behind. This sets up a few interesting questions. Is the coaching staff ready to makes some changes? Do they need to make some changes? Should they "stick with what got them here" or do they pull the trigger? The fact they have only scored 3 goals in 2 games might suggest they do. Does the staff have the knowledge and experience (not to mention the confidence) to make any changes in the middle of a series? If you were at the game, you would have seen the Hornets do pretty much everything right, and still lose. To me, that would only suggest only some minor tinkering with the attack plan, but nothing major. It's simple enough to break the Rebels approach, (it's much the same, and just as easy, as breaking a "full court press" in basketball or lacrosse) but it's whether or not the Hornets have the confidence to try anything different at this point. That's the tough question.
Heading to Fruitland tonight to take in Game 3 of the other semi-final. Peach Kings and the 73's each have a road win in this series. I predicted a seven-gamer and it's starting to shape up that way. Report coming tomorrow.