MISSISSAUGA, Ont. -- The Mississauga St. Michael's Majors were sixth in the Ontario Hockey League with the man-advantage during the regular season, but all that power deserted their power play during the 2011 MasterCard Memorial Cup, especially in Sunday's championship game.
The host Majors went 0-for-5 on the power play and allowed the Saint John Sea Dogs to score the game's first goal shorthanded. It added up to a 3-1 victory for the Sea Dogs and Canada's junior hockey championship.
For the tournament, Mississauga went just 4-for-27 on the power play, a 14.8-percent success rate; that's a far cry from the 21.8-percent they averaged during the regular season, and less than half of the 30.1-percent success rate they had in 20 OHL playoff games.
Mississauga got the game's first chance when Saint John's Ryan Tesink was sent off for roughing 2:09 into the game. However, the opportunity passed in the worst way possible. The Majors were sloppy with the puck coming out of their end, Saint John pounced on a turnover and defenseman Simon Despres, a Pittsburgh Penguins' draft pick, grabbed the puck, used Mississauga defenseman Stuart Percy as a screen and fired a shot over the blocker of goalie J.P. Anderson just 2:24 into the game.
"I thought at least tonight we were generating some chances off of it," said Majors coach Dave Cameron. "The power play, worst-case scenario, should get you some momentum. I thought we were real nervous in the first period and a big part of that was we gave up that shorthanded goal. We were just forcing things too much. I thought we were real good in the second and the third."
The other end of the special teams play, however, certainly went the Majors' way. Despite giving the offensively gifted Sea Dogs four straight power plays in the first period, the only goal they surrendered in that span was Zack Phillips' tap-in as time expired on Joseph Cramarossa's penalty.
"We let the emotions get the best of us in that period," said Mississauga captain Casey Cizikas, a New York Islanders prospect. "We took some stupid penalties and they cost us. … You never want to kill penalties, four or five in a row, and it's definitely tough to do that."
With the game being so close most of the way -- Riley Brace's goal with 5:19 left in the second made it a 2-1 game until Jonathan Huberdeau closed the scoring with 3:41 left in the third -- and with the Majors out-shooting the Sea Dogs 35-25 for the game and 26-14 in the final two periods, any extra bounce could have swung the final outcome.
"We were moving it around good, getting good shots," said Majors forward Devante Smith-Pelly, an Anaheim Ducks prospect who finished with 3 goals and 3 assists and earned a berth on the all-tournament team. "He was just making saves. Not much more to say. We were doing what we wanted to do, getting in front of him. He was just making saves. He played great. I think the power play was fine, just capitalizing just wasn't going our way today."
The "he" Smith-Pelly was talking about was Saint John goalie Jacob DeSerres, who finished with 34 saves, including 25 in the final two periods.
"We had our chances," said Cizikas. "We had tons of chances to score, just couldn't find the net. Their goalie played unbelievable tonight. He was the reason they won."
But as Majors defenseman and Washington Capitals prospect Brett Flemming said, the bottom line is the results just weren't there.
"It wasn't the opportunities, it was capitalizing on them," Flemming told NHL.com. "I thought we worked the puck pretty well, our breakout was good. In the end, if you don't put the puck in the back of the net, everyone looks at it as a fail."
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