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Ford stands out for Victoria

by Brian Compton
Just one night before his Victoria Salmon Kings were set to host Game 3 of their best-of-seven series against the Idaho Steelheads, goaltender Todd Ford was speaking humbly about his 51-save shutout in Game 2.

"We're feeling fairly confident going home, but I don't want to say overconfident," Ford told on Tuesday. "We were looking to go in there and get at least a split, but we came out with two (wins). That was really good news for us."

The news just kept getting better. On Wednesday, No. 3 Victoria waxed No. 2 Idaho in a 9-2 drubbing at the Save-on-Foods Memorial Centre. Five different players scored for the Salmon Kings in the first period, as Victoria built a 5-1 lead despite recording only nine shots in the opening 20 minutes.

But one could make a case that the Salmon Kings were feeding off the momentum that Ford provided from Sunday's Game 2. Twenty-three of Ford's 51 stops came in the second period of the 2-0 victory.

"They came out pretty hard," Ford said. They were just kind of shooting from everywhere. Our defense and forwards kind of kept them to the outside. Any pucks that I did let out into the slot on rebounds, our defensemen and forwards were there to clear it out for me. They were shooting everything, and I felt really comfortable in there."

Like most goaltenders, Ford enjoys keeping himself busy. Although he wasn't afraid to admit he would have enjoyed a lighter workload. He received that on Wednesday, as Victoria held Idaho to 30 shots. The Salmon Kings went 4-for-7 on the power play.

"Fifty-one every night ... we might not want that," Ford joked. "Sometimes it's more difficult when you're only getting 18 or 19 shots and you don't have as much action. They were just kind of shooting everything."

A former third-round pick of the Toronto Maple Leafs (2002), the 25-year-old Ford has yet to play in an AHL game. However, he has thoroughly outplayed Matt Climie in this series, as Climie -- who finished the NHL's regular season with the Dallas Stars -- was chased in the first period of Game 3 after allowing three goals on six shots.

"To be honest with you, I haven't even thought about that a bit," said Ford, who posted a .973 save percentage through the first three games. "I know he was up there, and that's good for him. As far as the series goes, it's not even really a factor."

Ford is hoping that his play will lead to some time with the Manitoba Moose in the American Hockey League next season. Obviously, one has to believe Manitoba brass took notice of what the Calgary native accomplished on Sunday.

"I would hope so," Ford said. "It's been a good season I think for myself. If they can notice it, that'd be great."

Game 4 is set for Friday night in Victoria. Idaho will have to make history in order to win this series, as no ECHL team has ever come back from a 3-0 series deficit.

Around the ECHL -- The Ontario Reign earned a 5-1 victory on Wednesday night and grabbed a 2-1 series lead against the Stockton Thunder. Geoff Walker scored twice for the Reign. ... The Bakersfield Condors twice battled back from two-goal deficits in the first period on Wednesday night en route to a 6-5 overtime victory against the Las Vegas Wranglers. Bruce Graham tallied the game-winner via the power play as Bakersfield took a 2-1 series lead. ... The Elmira Jackals have put the Trenton Devils on the brink of elimination with a 3-1 victory on Thursday night. Elmira opened the series by winning in quadruple overtime in the longest game in ECHL history. Josh Aspenlind got the game winner at the 6:10 mark. ... The Cincinnati Cyclones used a pair of power-play goals from Matt Syroczynski in the opening period to propel the club to a 4-3 win against the Wheeling Nailers on Wednesday night. That series in now tied at two games apiece, with Game 5 taking place on Friday night at WesBanco Arena. ... Tom Zanoski gave the Gwinnett Gladiators some life when he scored at 12:59 of overtime on Wednesday night to lift the club to a 3-2 win against the Florida Everblades, cutting the series deficit to 2-1. Game 4 is Friday at Gwinnett Arena. ... The South Carolina Stingrays erased a 2-0 series deficit with a 4-1 victory against the Charlotte Checkers on Thursday night. Game 5 will take place on Friday at the North Charleston Coliseum.

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