The Frontenacs got the ball rolling in game 4 with their first win of the series on home ice. On Thursday night they headed back to Hamilton to take on the Bulldogs in game 5. Kingston’s power play woke up in game 4 scoring a couple of third period goals to stretch the lead to 5-2 and ultimately force another game. The good news for Kingston was that in each series so far in this years playoffs, once they get a win they have won four straight to win the series. The bad news was that they were facing the Hamilton Bulldogs who only lost four straight once during the regular season. After game 4, Kingston had one down and three to go.
In terms of game planning, the opening period probably didn’t go the way Kingston drew it up in the dressing room, but they were happy to take the result. The Bulldogs out shot Kingston 8-1 in the opening minutes of the period, but Jason Robertson made the one shot count. He broke out of the Kingston zone on a 2-on-1 with Brett Neumann and chose to keep the puck and beat Kaden Fulcher for a 1-0 Kingston lead. Jeremy Helvig was perfect in the opening period making a total of 9 saves for the Frontenacs. Late in the period Kingston had a short 5 on 3 power play. The Bulldogs would kill the Robert Thomas penalty, but Will Bitten would remain in the box to start the second period. Kingston took a 1-0 lead into intermission, and would open the middle frame on the power play.
After killing the remainder of the penalty to open the period, Hamilton poured on the pressure in the second period. Jeremy Helvig continued to be brilliant. He was responsible for the Frontenacs continuing to lead the game. Eventually the Bulldogs would get one by Helvig to tie the game. Justin Lemcke sent a point shot to the net that beat Helvig to the blocker side. There was no question that the overage goaltender never saw the puck until it was in the net. He bounced back nicely not allowing another goal in the period despite Hamilton throwing 17 shots at him. Kingston needed a big third period to keep their season alive. The game was tied 1-1 with twenty minutes left.
Kingston started the third period with a sense of urgency. They turned up the heat and started getting more pucks on net. The game was much closer in the final period than the rest of the game. Jeremy Helvig continued to be excellent, but in the final frame Kaden Fulcher was one shot better. Just after the TV timeout, Connor Walters beat Jeremy Helvig, again through a screen that blinded the goaltender, to score the goal that would eventually put the Hamilton Bulldogs into the OHL finals. Kingston made a strong push with Helvig on the bench to tie the game, but it wasn’t meant to be on this night. Kaden Fulcher stood tall to hold them off. The Hamilton Bulldogs held on to a 2-1 lead and defeated the Kingston Frontenacs 4-1 in the Eastern Conference Chamionship.
With the loss, the OHL careers of Jeremy Helvig, Ted Nichol and Liam Murray have come to an end. The Kingston roster will look much different next season with many players moving on to pro careers and some tough decisions about what players will return as overage players. This playoff run ties the best season in Frontenacs history with 9 playoff wins.
Kingston Frontenacs training camp will open in late August before the 46th season begins in September.