KYRZAKOS email@example.com_county.owen_sound.the_sun_times 2006-03-30 published
CONWAY steps up for Attack
Backup goalie gets call minutes before 7-2 Owen Sound win
By Bill WALKER, Sun Times sports editor, Thursday, March 30, There really wasn't any time for Neil CONWAY to get nervous.
The 18-year-old Owen Sound Attack goalie was all set to take his customary seat at the end of the bench Wednesday where he would watch veteran overager Michael OUZAS start against the Kitchener Rangers.
But a bout of the flu made it impossible for OUZAS to keep anything down, which meant CONWAY had five minutes warning that he'd be the Game 4 starter in the Ontario Hockey League playoff series.
“Sometimes it's better to just get out there into the game without knowing but I had an idea that I may have to go in,” CONWAY said after being named the game's second star for a 35-save performance in the Attack's 7-2 victory over the Rangers.
“After the first couple shots I felt pretty comfortable.&rdquo
OUZAS left the ice with three minutes remaining in the warmup Wednesday. He was evaluated by team doctors and was diagnosed as having the flu and being dehydrated.
He's listed day-to-day.
“The decision was basically made after warmup so nobody had any time to dwell on it,” said Attack coach Mike STOTHERS.
“When a guy is threatening to vomit in the crease, or worse, you just can't do it so Neil had very little time to prepare. To his credit, he's been putting in so much extra time that it's great to see him rewarded.&rdquo
The Attack now have a commanding 3-1 lead in the best-of-seven Western Conference quarterfinal series.
Game 5 is set for Friday in Kitchener. If necessary, Game 6 will go Saturday in Owen Sound. Game time at the Harry Lumley Bayshore is 7: 30 p.m.
The Attack started the game with a sense of urgency, looking to give their sophomore goalie an early lead.
Jeff KYRZAKOS and Bobby RYAN put Owen Sound up 2-0 eight minutes into the game, but the Rangers tied it as Cory KONECNY and Matt AUFFREY scored 3: 12 apart late in the period.
“There are a lot of adjectives I could use (for this game) but most of them aren't appropriate for audiences,” said Rangers' coach/general manager Peter DEBOER.
“They faced some adversity with their backup goalie going and they found a way to get a win. It's eerily like Eric PFLIGLER coming in here last year,” he said, a reference to the Rangers backup who took the team to the conference final last season.
Andrej SEKERA gave the Attack the lead with 1: 28 remaining in the first when the puck squirted out from behind the net and he was able to shovel it past a startled Rangers goalie Dan TURPLE.
Mike ANGELIDIS made it 4-2 in the second when he stepped out of the penalty box and took a pass from SEKERA, breaking in alone and beating TURPLE with a backhand high to the glove side.
Owen Sound blew it open in the third as ANGELIDIS scored his second of the game, this one shorthanded. KYRZAKOS scored his second 10 minutes later on a two-man power play and centre Scott GILES finished it off with a late shorthanded marker.
“Our special teams worked and I think that was key,” said ANGELIDIS. “You have to give credit to Neil CONWAY. He stepped up huge for us.&rdquo
TURPLE made 26 saves on a night when he got little help from his defence.
“I feel bad for (TURPLE) because he's a guy who battled all year for us and we really hung him out to dry,” said DEBOER.
“I think we had an opportunity here to change the momentum of the series, but we would have had to show up and get off the bus and be ready to battle. Our big players who have not been big in the first three games had an opportunity to come in here and turn the series around. We didn't get contributions from anybody.&rdquo
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