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HOCKEY

OHL champion Attack need three straight wins to claim Memorial Cup title

MISSISSAUGA, Ont. - The Ontario Hockey League champions will need three straight wins if they hope to bring a Memorial Cup title to Owen Sound.

With a 3-1 loss to the host Mississauga St. Michael's Majors on Wednesday night, the Attack will now play in Thursday night's tiebreaker game.

The Attack were in a similar situation in the OHL final when they fell behind 3-2 in the series against the Majors and won games six and seven, by identical 3-2 scores, to win the title. Earlier in the series the Attack fell behind 2-0 before battling back to tie the series.

Attack defenceman Jesse Blacker said that, despite their early tournament success against the Ice, the tiebreaker is a new scenario.

"We're going to expect a hard fought game," the Toronto Maple Leafs prospect said. "Going out and winning the first game 5-0 doesn't mean anything. It's similar to the playoffs; you could win 5-0 in one game and lose 10-0 in the next one. We can't take them lightly just because we won game one."

The Majors hope to re-energize a bit thanks to the day off.

"It's huge," said Majors forward Devante Smith-Pelly. "Going into the tie-breaker, if we had played it and came out, that would have been three-in-three for us. In a tournament like this where every game is really intense, it's almost like that kiss of death. The day off is going to be huge. We're going to reenergize to be ready for Friday."

The Attack could be without star-forward Joey Hishon, who was injured in the round robin on a hit by Kootenay's Brayden McNabb. McNabb was suspended for the hit and Hishon may not dress for the tiebreaker game because of it.

"Joey's still day-to-day but truthfully, he's sitting in the dark in his room so it doesn't bode well for him (for the tiebreaker)," said Owen Sound coach Mark Reeds following Wednesday's loss.

The status of Garrett Wilson is also up in the air after a first-period hit that forced him out of the game.

"As far as Garrett goes, when an athlete starts asking the same question over and over again, there's room to have concern," Reeds said. "(Trainer) Andy Brown did the right thing by taking him out of the game. It's an unfortunate part of sports but it's something you have to deal with."

The two teams opened their round robin schedules on Saturday night with the Attack coming out on top by a 5-0 score. Hishon didn't factor into the scoring while Wilson scored the final goal. Secondary players will be a key for the Attack, regardless of whether or not Hishon and Wilson are in the lineup on Thursday night.

"(Having Hishon and Wilson out) gives other guys time to shine and take advantage of the opportunity they're given," said Attack goaltender Jordan Binnington.

Added Blacker: "We're definitely going to have to have some of the secondary guys step up. It's a good chance for some of the young guys to step up. It's unfortunate that (the injuries) happened but we're just going to move forward.