This series was destined to go seven games after all.
Last week we talked about how Adam Boqvist and the London Knights built a somewhat surprising 3-0 series lead over MacKenzie Entwistle and the Guelph Storm in Round 2 of the Ontario Hockey League Playoffs, but failed to complete the sweep in Game 4.
Guelph went on to win Games 5 and 6, and completed the reverse sweep with a 6-3 win over the Knights on Tuesday in London, becoming only the fifth team in league history to come back from a 3-0 series deficit.
Here’s a look at how the Blackhawks prospects fared along the way.
Game 5: Guelph 3, London 1
Boqvist: 0 points, 5 shots
Entwistle: 0 points, 3 shots, 3 for 9 in faceoffs
The big hero in this was one Canadiens prospect Nick Suzuki, who scored the game-winning and insurance goals for Guelph. Isaac Ratcliffe drew the primary assist on each, but Entwistle wasn’t in on either points wise after being replaced on the top unit by Dom Commisso for a spell.
Game 6: Guelph 5, London 3
Boqvist: 1 power play goal, 2 shots
Entwistle: 2 assists (1 primary), 1 shot
Boqvist’s goal was his 10th! of the postseason, which put him atop the OHL leaderboard up to that point — one ahead of Suzuki and Saginaw's Owent Tippett, a 2017 first-round pick of the Florida Panthers.
Entwistle’s primary assist came on some yeoman's work behind the net with a London defenseman all over him. He managed to get the puck out in front of the net, and Ratcliffe popped it in. Safe to say he earned a spot back on that line.
Note: Embeddable highlights were hard to come by for this one, but you can watch them here.
That win set the table for Guelph to be placed in rare air if they could complete the series comeback.
Game 7: Guelph 6, London 3
Boqvist: 0 points, 4 shots, 1 hit post on a breakaway
Entwistle: 2 goals, 4 shots, 1 for 5 in faceoffs.
After Guelph opened the scoring, London scored three goals in 3:04 early in the second period to take a 3-1 lead. The Storm went on to score the next five goals, all coming from the top line of Suzuki (one), Ratcliffe (two) and Entwistle (two).
Entwistle scored the final two goals, including this much needed insurance marker and an empty-netter.
Pair from @5twisty5 puts it away @NHLBlackhawks prospect adds 2️⃣ of insurance as @Storm_City secure series with a fourth straight win to become just fifth #OHL team to erase a 3-0 deficit.#OHLPlayoffs | #LDNvsGUE pic.twitter.com/6FXSzythQP— OntarioHockeyLeague (@OHLHockey) April 17, 2019
Guelph remained down 3-2 heading into the third period, but Entwistle said there was never any quit in this group.
“There was tons of confidence,” Entwistle told the Guelph Mercury. “We were all talking and saying, ‘Listen, it’s either one period and we’re done or one period and we’re going to the Western Conference finals.’ That’s sort of the thing that kept coming up. You know a lot of us will be done after this year so - no one wants it to end. We still have a lot of work to do and we haven’t won anything yet but obviously it’s nice to come out of this series.”
From the London side of things, the big guns didn’t have much to say after the tough loss, but 21-year-old Will Lochead, who grew up with Ratcliffe and Suzuki, gave full credit where it was due.
“They’re one of five teams (in OHL history) to come back from down 0-3. It’s incredible what they did,” Lochead told the London Free Press. “All our players can learn from this. You can never really take the foot off the gas when you’re up (in a game or a series).
“The first three games (of the series), we got the upper hand with the hockey gods in our favour,” Lochead added, “then the next four, they did. You have to give Isaac, Nick, (Nate) Schnarr and Entwistle a lot of credit. Those four are quite the powerhouse (up front).”
Stats through 2 rounds:
Boqvist: 11 games, 10 goals (8 PP), 3 PP assists, 36 shots
The 10 goals scored by the defenseman put Boqvist in a tie for the OHL playoff lead with Nick Suzuki through the first two rounds. A deeper look at his season will be conducted next week, but needless to say it was an impressive offensive performance in his first taste of playoff action in North America.
Entwistle: 11 games, 5 goals (1 PP), 7 assists (1 PP), 19 for 43 in faceoffs
The talented two-way forward is averaging better than a point per game, and remains in contention for his second straight OHL championship after winning last year with the Hamilton Bulldogs.
OHL Western Conference finals - Saginaw Spirit (2) vs. Guelph Storm (4)
Game 1, Thurs., April 18 at Saginaw, 7:07 p.m.
Game 2, Sat., April 20 at Saginaw, 7:07 p.m.
Game 3, Mon., April 22 at Guelph, 7 p.m.
Game 4, Wed., April 24 at Guelph, 7 p.m.
Game 5, Fri., April 26 at Saginaw, 7:07 p.m.*
Game 6, Sun., April 28 at Guelph, 2 p.m.*
Game 7, Mon., April 29 at Saginaw, 7:07 p.m.*