YOUNG NATIONALS COME BACK IN THIRD TO DOWN KINGS
JASON LA ROSE
THUNDER BAY, Ont. – Ryan Mansfield and Joseph Martino scored nine seconds apart early in the third period to turn a deficit into a lead, and the Toronto Young Nationals came from behind to edge the Thunder Bay Kings 3-2 on Wednesday night at the 2019 TELUS Cup.
The victory improves the Young Nationals to 2-1 while leaving the host Kings in an unenviable position at 0-3. The good news? The last two teams to qualify for the semifinals with three losses – the 2015 Young Nationals and 2017 Cape Breton West Islanders – both ended up winning the national title.
Down by a goal entering the third period, Toronto didn’t waste any time flipping the script.
Mansfield tied it at 1:30, knocking in a centering pass from Elias Cohen, and Martino jumped on an errant pass at the offensive blue-line and beat Kings goaltender Jordan Smith through the legs.
The Young Nationals clamped down defensively from there, allowing only four shots on goal in the final 20 minutes to earn two big points and all-Ontario bragging rights.
Thunder Bay got the home crowd at Fort William Gardens going early; Nikolas Campbell got a shot through traffic and through Toronto netminder James Gray for a power-play goal midway through the first period.
Thomas Harbour pulled the Young Nationals even two minutes into the second period, cutting to the middle of the ice and catching Smith going the wrong way, but Trenton Morriseau spun in the slot and beat Gray to restore the Kings’ lead only 93 seconds after that.
That would be it for offence from the hosts, who are trying to become only the third host team in a decade to qualify for the semifinals.
Smith was terrific in a losing cause, making 30 saves.
Toronto faces a tough test Thursday against the unbeaten Cantonniers de Magog (4 p.m. ET), while the Kings try again for a maiden win when they take on the Halifax Macs (7:30 p.m. ET).