Anybody still bitching about playoff ticket prices? Not anyone who was there for Friday’s epic battle at the KRock Centre. Game Two had something for everyone, the best entertainment for your hockey dollar was right here in Kingston , except there was no storybook ending.
4,700 fans were sitting in those overpriced seats when Kingston jumped out to a 1-0 lead just two minutes in on a powerplay goal by Connor McGlynn. With the crowd behind them, the Fronts couldn’t find a way to build off that early momentum.
In fact, for most of the night Kingston just didn’t play like they had all year. More importantly, they were missing the swagger that should come with being the best in the East and beating Niagara three of four during the regular season.
Niagara clearly looked like the top ‘Dogs, dominating the Frontenacs for much of the night. Early in the third period after putting two quick ones past Jeremy Helvig, they had a 5-2 lead and it looked like this one was over. Hopes of a deep playoff run for the Frontenacs were fading by the minute.
Desperate times call for desperate measures. Things got so bad coach Paul McFarland went back to his number one goalie Lucas Peressini.
You might remember Lucas? A year ago Peressini was the OHL’s best goalie, now stapled to the end of the Frontenacs bench finishing out his overage year. There was no expectation Peressini was coming in to kickstart a comeback, he was sent in to ‘mop up’ and save Helvig’s confidence from being completely destroyed.
But at that point the momentum changed, and for the first time in a long time the Fronts faithful got really loud. As loud as I have heard it for hockey at the KRock Centre.
The Kingston hockey crowd has a reputation for being pretty quiet even when they show up in big numbers. But not on this night, they paid their money and they were going to be heard. They didn’t wait for something to happen, several times the crowd spontaneously began chanting ‘Go Fronts Go’, which never happens unless Rockin’ Reid is standing in front of three fans on the big screen offering them free pizza slices. Reid was nowhere to be seen and the whole building was rocking. Cheering every hit, every scoring chance and every big play. Yes, sitting in these vastly overpriced seats, the home crowd had come alive and willed the Fronts to a spectacular comeback.
Feeding off the crowd Kingston rallied and scored three goals in the last ten minutes to knot it at 5-5 and force overtime. The momentum carried over into the extra period, Fronts outshot Niagara 18-6 in OT and had chance after chance, but could not beat Niagara goaltender Alex Nedeljkovic. At one point Nedeljkovic went down injured, it created a very long delay and it appeared he may not continue. No such luck for Kingston. Then with a 2nd overtime looming, faceoff in the Kingston end, Niagara’s Anthony DiFruscia beats Peressini with a wrister and just like that the night was over.
Maybe this franchise is really cursed. On a night when they clearly deserved a much better fate the hockey Gods wouldn’t let it happen. If the Fronts can play in St. Catharines the way they played in the last 30 minutes of Game Two this series is not over. Kingston fans seem pretty confident they will be back home for Game Five next Friday.
The Fronts make the 2nd round for the first time in almost two decades and all anyone wants to talk about is ticket prices. That’s your worst nightmare if you’re the Fronts organization. According to work done by our friends at CKWS-TV, Fronts have the most expensive seats of the eight cities left in the OHL playoffs. When you have starved your fan base of decent entertainment for two decades, why try to stick it to them when you finally get there? They should have done ‘Throwback Thursday” for Game One and sold every seat in the place for 10 bucks .. Look for Helvig to be back in for Game Three Sunday …Where would this team be without Dal Colle? … Now that they’re getting a little attention, why don’t the Fronts bring back some of their former players to be honoured pre-game. A guy like Mike Moffat would be a good example. This franchise pays no attention to its 40-plus year past.