MISSISSAUGA, Ont. - Rob Flick and the Mississauga St. Michael's Majors remain very much in the mix at the MasterCard Memorial Cup.
Flick had a goal and an assist Sunday to lead the Majors to a huge 2-1 win over the Kootenay Ice. The victory was the first of the tournament for Mississauga (1-1) and moved it into a first-place tie with the Saint John Sea Dogs (1-0) and Owen Sound Attack (1-0), who square off Monday night.
The first-place finisher advances directly to the tournament final with the second- and third-place teams qualifying for the semifinal round.
After a scoreless second, Flick broke a 1-1 tie at 11:51 of the third to bring the Hershey Centre gathering of 5,429 to its feet. After taking a pass, Flick went wide to beat the Ice defenceman before firing a shot on his forehand past Kootenay goalie Nathan Lieuwen.
The goal was also sweet redemption for Flick, who got an earful from head coach Dave Cameron in the first period after taking consecutive minor penalties and giving Kootenay two power-play chances.
"I took a couple of bad calls and put the team down a bit but they stuck up and killed them off and gave me a chance to come back later," Flick said. "We knew we needed that game, it was huge.
"We couldn't leave it to the last game . . . but that's not it. It's only one game and we've got a lot further to go.''
Cameron said early on, Flick got too caught up in the emotion of the contest.
"He was spending too much energy on the non-hockey stuff," Cameron said. "Once I got him calmed down he played a real power game, which he really has to do.''
Mississauga goaltender J.P. Anderson was also solid, stopping 33 shots.
Falling to 0-2 in the Memorial Cup has been a hole only one team has been able to climb out of and win the tournament. The Windsor Spitfires accomplished the historic feat two years ago.
"When you only play three games, if you go down 0-2 you know that's a tough hill to climb back up," Majors captain Casey Cizikas said. "That's the beauty of this tournament: You have to bring your 'A' game.
"It can end as quickly as it starts."
Maxim Kitsyn had the other goal for Mississauga, which finished 0-for-6 on the power play after going 2-for-7 with the man advantage in its opening 4-3 loss to QMJHL-champion Saint John.
"Tonight, (the power-play unit) was really tight," Cameron said. "They just weren't making any plays . . . we tried to run things on 5-on-3s and we didn't run one of them and were making bad decisions and forcing pucks.''
Cody Eakin scored for Kootenay (0-2), which responded with a better effort following a 5-0 defeat Saturday night to Owen Sound.
The WHL champions were minus captain Brayden McNabb. He was suspended for one game earlier Sunday after elbowing Owen Sound's Joey Hishon on Saturday night.
Rookie head coach Kris Knoblauch said while having McNabb would have given the Ice a boost, he felt Kootenay having to kill five Majors' power-play chances in the second left his club fatigued in the third.
"We did an excellent job killing those penalties and you can usually get a momentum boost when you do," he said. "But that doesn't do much for your legs.
"Would we have liked Brayden McNabb in there? Absolutely, I think he would've helped a lot. But I just think we would've had a bit more jump had we not had to kill all those penalties. We have to be more disciplined."
With McNabb out, Kootenay went with three assistant captains: Kevin King, Matt Fraser and Steele Boomer.
Hishon, Owen Sound's leading scorer during the regular season, wasn't on the ice for an optional skate Sunday but did exercise and took part some light stretching.
Eakin scored Kootenay's first goal of the tournament on the power play at 7:55 of the first. Kitsyn erased the advantage, countering just 1:23 later to make it 1-1.
The Majors will end their portion of the round robin Wednesday against Owen Sound in a rematch of the OHL final. The Attack claimed the league crown after rallying from series deficits of 2-0 and 3-2 to win the championship with a 3-2 overtime decision in the seventh and deciding game.
The contest will certainly be a heated one played between two rivals, but Cameron isn't concerned about the Majors becoming swept up in all the emotion.
"No, not at all," he said. "I know we haven't played the way we can.
"This win is huge in terms of getting our confidence back, a little bit of mojo back. But it doesn't guarantee anything.''