Fronts keep season alive with 5-2 win in game 4
For the first time in the 2018 OHL playoffs the Kingston Frontenacs faced elimination on Tuesday night, but they were hoping it wouldn’t be the last. Trailing the Hamilton Bulldogs 3-0 in the Eastern Conference Championship series, the Frontenacs needed to get the ball rolling on home ice in order to extend the series to game 5, which would be Thursday night in Hamilton. The only lineup change after game 3 for Kingston was Justin Pringle swapping in for Paul Larabie. The Hamilton Bulldogs remained status quo with their lineup.
One thing Kingston had not done in the series was score the first goal of the game. They were able to do that in game 4 after a quick start. Sean Day made a beautiful pass across the ice to Cliff Pu who hit a wide-open net to give Kingston their first lead of the series. Hamilton pushed back quickly when MacKenzie Entwistle tied the game just over two minutes later. They would then take the lead on an Arthur Kaliyev goal that banked in off Jeremy Helvig’s skate. During 4 on 4 play, Max Jones showed off his wheels going from one end to the other and sniping glove side on Kaden Fulcher to tie the game. Unfortunately, it was the last thing Max Jones would do in the game. Before the period ended, after a post whistle scuffle where he was given a penalty, Jones was given a game misconduct for arguing with the official. The game was tied after the opening period, but Kingston had suffered a major loss with Max Jones exiting the game.
Kingston had their best period of the series in the middle frame. They came close to taking a lead in the game on multiple occasions. Gabe Vilardi rang a shot off the post just after a power play had started, but the puck bounced under Kaden Fulcher rather than into the net. Minutes later, Eemeli Rasanen hit the same post and the puck hopped over the stick of Vilardi on the rebound opportunity. It seemed the bounces weren’t going to go Kingston’s way, but that changed at 15:03 of the period. Matt Hotchkiss slid a backhanded pass to Sam Field who put it by Fulcher to put Kingston ahead 3-2. For the first time in the series, Kingston led at the end of a period.
Kingston was determined to keep the series alive in the third period and Hamilton was willing to contribute by spending the majority of the period in the penalty box. Kingston got an insurance goal on the power play from Jason Robertson near the midway point of the period. He waited for the lane to clear and Fulcher to be out of position before finding the net to make it 4-2. During a 5 on 3 later in the period, Sean Day extended the lead to 5-2 with a wrist shot from the point that found its way in through traffic. The Bulldogs continued their march to the penalty box for the remainder of the period. Kingston was content to stay out of trouble and hold on to their three-goal lead. When the buzzer sounded, Kingston had forced a game 5 with a 5-2 win in game 4.
The game marked the latest home game of a season in Frontenacs history. The previous record was April 23, 1993 against Peterborough. Gabe Vilardi recorded his first two points of the series with two assists. With Liam Murray’s suspension expiring after game 4 he will return to the lineup in game 5.
The series heads back to Hamilton on Thursday at 7 PM for game 5. Game 6 will take place on Saturday night at 7 PM back at the Rogers K-Rock Centre if necessary.