By Mark Gokavi
Dayton Daily News
Meat and potatoes versus sushi might be oversimplifying things.
But the Dayton Bombers’ more physical, defensive style has worked later in games against Florida’s offensive skill in the ECHL American Conference finals.
With a win on Thursday or Friday at Germain Arena in Estero, Fla., the Bombers earn their second trip to the Kelly Cup Finals.
“The South Division teams sort of play a more wide-open game in general than the kind of grittier North Division,” said Bombers defenseman Brad Faryunk, whose goal started Tuesday’s rally from a two-goal deficit to a 4-2 win and 3-2 series lead.
“And in a 6- or 7-game series, that’s the goal. Come Game 4 and 5, you start to notice being physical on them. It looks like mentally, they start to turn pucks over.”
The Everblades have skilled skaters and passers. But the advantage has lessened at the end of games — and not only due to what Florida players complained was bad ice.
In the past three games, Dayton outscored Florida 6-1 in the third periods and overtime. Through five games, that cumulative advantage is 8-4. One explanation is having instigators like center Philippe Dupuis (pictured), who played 44 games at Syracuse in the AHL.
“I make sure I’m good defensively and I complete my hits,” he said. “I do a lot of body-checking, and I think my offensive game came back a little bit.”
Another reason is rock-solid defense, especially by goaltender Adam Berkhoel.
“He’s always strong in the third period,” Dupuis said. “We know no matter what we do, he has our back.”
Now, the Everblades have home ice. “They have to go through us to get those two wins,” Bombers coach Don MacAdam said. “We’re going to make that as difficult as possible.”