Nationals down Cyclones 3-2, lead Sutherland Cup semifinal 2-0

LISTOWEL — Though Game 2 in the Sutherland Cup semifinal was closer than Game 1, the London Nationals’ penalty-killing and powerplay outmatched the Cyclones for a 3-2 win.

But for most of Friday’s matchup in Listowel, the teams were fairly evenly matched, with no scoring in the first, and a goal each in the second. London’s Christian Polillo knocked one in with the man advantage less than halfway through the period and Listowel’s Trent Verbeek responded with a minute and a half left.

The third period, though, was a different story.

At 14 minutes, London’s Wes Dobbin put up the team’s second marker, then Cyclone Craig McKague took an interference penalty less than 20 seconds later. On the powerplay, London’s George Diaco slipped by Listowel’s penalty killers and scored with less than five minutes left.

London Nationals’ Bryce Kilbourne stops Listowel captain Chayse Herrfort as he rushes the net in the first period of Game 2 of the Sutherland Cup semifinal Friday night in Listowel. (Galen Simmons/Postmedia Network)

Listowel’s Jonah White put his team’s second of the night into an empty net with seven seconds to go, but it was too little, too late and Game 2 went to London.

“Tonight, we got that empty-netter which makes it closer, but at the end of the day, they’re deeper, they’re stronger, they’re faster right now and the experience is showing,” Cyclones head coach Jason Brooks said. “If we want to get back in this series, we’ve got to earn it. I think we definitely can, but we’ve got to gain some experience quickly here to fight back and get a win Sunday night.”

For a team that gets much of its offensive strength from its powerplay lineup, Listowel has to figure out how to break through the Nationals’ penalty-killers to gain some traction in this series, Brooks said.

London may be up two games in the series, but head coach Pat Powers isn’t counting the Cyclones out just yet.

“We just got to make sure we’re taking the day off tomorrow and kind of recouping and recovering, and kind of getting the rest we need because we know these guys aren’t going to give up. They’re going to come in and the more games we win the better effort we’re going to get out of them,” Powers said.

Game 3 of the Sutherland Cup semifinal goes Sunday at 7 p.m. at the Western Fair Sports Centre in London.

gsimmons@postmedia.com

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