Saturday, June 4, 2022

Cuylle And Rempe Key Game One Upset Wins

Will Cuylle (OHL Images)
Friday night was more than just the New York Rangers game two win as the last two Rangers prospects got their league finals underway with upset wins on the road. When the OHL and WHL league finals got underway both Windsor and Seattle were underdogs and not expected to offer serious challenges. 

Someone forgot to tell that to Windsor and Seattle as they came out and played like Rangers clones. Both teams were coming off a tough game seven conference finals while their opposition had sailed through their playoff runs.

Captain Will Cuylle and his Windsor Spitfires were facing the Hamilton Bulldogs, the OHL's Eastern Conference Champions who went 12-0 in their playoff run to reach the finals. Hamilton had the best overall record in the OHL and was the CHL's top-ranked team.

Game one started off with a scoreless first period and Hamilton scored first with a power-play goal. Cuylle got the equalizer 49 seconds later when linemate Wyatt Johnson hit Cuylle coming down the slot and Cuylle fired a snap shot to tie the game.

Hamilton would regain the lead late in the second and then add another goal midway in the third to take a 3-1 lead. But it was Cuylle who started the comeback with his team on the power-play, Cuylle scored his second goal of the game. 

The Windsor captain found a loose puck and took it to the net firing a shot over the stick side of the Hamilton goalie to cut the Hamilton lead to 3-2. Windsor would tie the game and force overtime where they would score the game-winner at 9:30 of the first overtime.

The win gives Windsor a 1-0 series lead and stole home-ice advantage away from Hamilton. Cuylle was named the game's second star for his two goals on six shots with a +1 and a 7-5 mark on his faceoffs.

For Cuylle the two goals improved his playoff numbers to 12-11-23. Game two will be Sunday starting at 2 PM EDT.

Matthew Rempe (Andy Devlin)
In Edmonton, Matthew Rempe and his Seattle Thunderbirds were facing an Edmonton Oil Kings team that only had one loss in their playoff run through the WHL's Eastern Conference playoffs. The Oil Kings were coming off knocking off the Winnipeg Ice who were the favorites in the WHL.

Seattle is so many ways is having a playoff run just like the Rangers, down 3-1 and coming back to defeat the Portland Winterhawks. Winning a second road game seven against the Kamloops Blazers.

And Edmonton is considered the heavy favorite to win this series but Seattle has other plans. A scoreless first period saw Edmonton dominate Seattle. Edmonton outshot Seattle 21-7 and only Seattle's goalie Thomas Milic kept the game tied at 0-0.

In the second period, Matthew Rempe got his Thunderbirds on the scoreboard with an even-strength goal at 1:59. Rempe picked up a rebound of linemate Reid Schaefer and backhanded a shot into an open net.


It was Rempe's sixth goal of the playoffs and Seattle never looked back. They would score a second goal and then hold off the Oil Kings in the third period. That is where Rempe stood out to me.

More than his goal, it was Rempe's defensive play in the third period that was the difference-maker.  In the final minutes of the game, Seattle sent Rempe out to take the defensive zone faceoffs and he held his own.

For the game, Rempe was 11-6 on his faceoffs which might not seem like a lot but most of them were in those final minutes.  And there was a moment that stood out for me the most, Seattle's goalie Thomas Milic had just made a save in the final minute. 

As an Edmonton player was skating towards Milic, Rempe stepped in front of his goalie and made sure nobody was going to touch Milic. Seattle wins 2-1 to take a 1-0 series lead with game two on Sunday. 

Here is Rempe in the post-game news conference

No comments: