By JEFF WINDMUELLER Independent Record | Posted: Saturday, March 13, 2010
Seattle brought a different team on Friday night.
Following an 8-1 trouncing the night before, the Totems showed the Helena Bighorns why they\’re challenging them for the Cascade Cup for the third straight year.
The Bighorns, meanwhile, showed the Totems why they\’ve won it the last two.
Helena rallied from a 1-0 deficit early in Game 2 of the Cascade Cup finals then held off the Totems in a tumultuous third period to put themselves one win away from picking up their third straight NorPac championship with a 4-2 win at Helena Ice Arena.
Helena leads the series 2-0 with Game 3 tonight at 7:30 at Helena Ice Arena.
\”We talked about it after last night\’s game, they weren\’t playing their game,\” said Bighorns head coach Scott Cunningham about the opposition. \”They were coming off a 13, 14 hour bus ride.
\”Tonight, they played their game.\”
The Totems jumped out to the early lead when Stormy Knight won the battle in the corner and zipped a pass across the crease to Jake Rademacher for the goal just 3 minutes, 4 seconds into the contest.
Trailing for the first time in the series, the Bighorns began chipping away at the Totems as forwards Jack Kippen and Tom Greene created one altercation after another.
Kippen\’s sharp tongue infuriated the Totems more than anything, while Greene\’s incessant crashes on Seattle goalie Anthony Chimenti created a flurry of punches and challenges from defenders that had Seattle killing penalties throughout much of the first 20 minutes.
\”They help us a lot,\” said Bighorns assistant captain Adam Johnson, whose third period empty-net goal put the game away for good. \”They get the guys fired up. We need guys going out there, stopping top lines and causing havoc.\”
Four seconds after Greene and Nelson Aamoot both went to the sin bin for coincidental unsportsmanlike conduct penalties, Seattle captain Chris Beede was called for slashing Johnson on the face-off.
The Bighorns capitalized quickly on the power play when Kevin Clark\’s shot ricocheted into traffic and Cody Hess buried it for his third goal in two games, tying the game up with 1:17 left in the period.
Kippen drew Beede – by far the Totem\’s best forward – off the ice to start the second period as both were called for unsportsmanlike conduct after the first-period horn sounded.
The Bighorns didn\’t waste a moment as Gehrett Sargis skated the puck into the Totems\’ zone and ripped a wristshot over the shoulder of Chimenti to give the Bighorns a 2-1 lead just 58 seconds into the period.
Christoffer Goransson made it 3-1 just 17 seconds later when his blue-line slapshot made it past the goalie\’s outstretched pad.
Bighorns head coach Scott Cunningham said his team had struggled in the past when they trailed, but unlike past games – like a 5-0 loss to Yellowstone in the America West Division series – they didn\’t slow down.
\”We just needed to stay positive,\” he said. \”It\’s been one of our faults, we would get down early and then panicked.\”
Panicking was left up for the third period.
Bighorns goalie Ryan Sutliffe, who saw a combined total of nine shots in the first two period, kicked away two cross-ice one-timers early in the final stanza. Seattle made the third time the charm.
Rademacher slung the puck past a defender to Gerry Holland, who put it past Sutliffe to bring the Totems within one goal of tying with 14:10 still left in the game.
Helena spent much of the rest of the third period on their own penalty kill, and with a man advantage the Totems pulled their goalie with 2:39 left on the clock.
The Bighorns held them off for the next 51 seconds to kill the penalty, then with 53 seconds left in the game, Johnson fought off two Seattle players to shoot the puck in the empty net.
\”They kept trying to throw it up the boards, one time it hit me (in the gut),\” Johnson said of the play. \”I got it and threw it toward the goal.\”
The Bighorns would end up 1 for 7 on the power play while shutting the Totems down on their six opportunities.
Sutliffe finished with 13 saves while Chimenti had 61 one night after being pulled when he gave up three goals on just five shots.
Sutliffe, who has been a part of the Bighorns\’ national-bound teams the last two years, said he knows how close Helena is to winning another title.
\”I think everyone pretty much knows,\” he said. \”Deep down inside, we want to win that championship for everyone in the locker room and all the guys that have worn a Bighorns jersey before.\”
NOTES: Sargis was credited for Goransson\’s goal on the official score book … Beede finished with a game-high four penalties while Kippen finished with three.