Salmon Kings Top Line Must Produce

By Cleve Dheensaw
© Times Colonist (Victoria) 2009

VICTORIA, British Columbia – You don’t have to tell veterans such as Wes Goldie or Olivier Filion twice.

When Victoria Salmon Kings GM and head coach Mark Morrison said his best players got beaten by the Alaska Aces’ best players in the opening two games of the ECHL West Division final, the Salmon Kings top-line guys got the point.

“Our line needs to put the puck in the net more, including on the power play,” said Goldie, who has a goal and two assists in six playoff games after scoring 48 goals in the regular season.

“We have to step up and deliver. We played pretty well up there, but that’s not what counts, especially in the playoffs. The only thing that counts this time of year is results.”

The top-seed Aces lead the third-seed Salmon Kings 2-0 in their best-of-seven second-round Kelly Cup playoff series after 3-0 and 8-2 victories last weekend at the intimidating Sullivan Arena in Anchorage.

The series, between the St. Louis Blues and Vancouver Canucks farm teams, shifts to Victoria for Game 3 on Wednesday at 7 p.m. at Save-on-Foods Memorial Centre. Game 4 is here Friday in the 2-3-2 format. Game 5, if needed, would be Saturday at the Memorial Centre. Victoria must take at least two games in this middle home stretch to get the series back to Anchorage.

“Our regulation ice surface here [compared to Sullivan Arena’s larger Olympic-size sheet] better suits the way we play,” said Goldie, noting that Victoria needs to get back to its suffocating, banging, grinding style in order to be successful.

The Salmon Kings, however, found Alaska forwards Colin Hemingway, Scott Burt, Cam Keith, Josh Soares and Alexandre Imbeault almost impossible to corral on the larger ice sheet in Anchorage.

“Getting away from the bigger rink helps our game, plus the lift we get from our fans, who have been behind us all season,” said Filion, a graduate of the Acadie-Bathurst Titan of the Quebec Major Junior League.

“The Aces are not the same team on the road. It’s a must-win, for sure, but we’re looking for home ice and our fans to give us momentum. We have to come out hard and show character.”

The five-foot-10 Filion, who has a goal and assist in six playoff games, won a Kelly Cup and played four successful seasons with the Aces and knows well the ECHL mystique that has been built up in Anchorage.

“Aces teams always come at you hard for 60 minutes and we have to come back just as hard at them and I know we will. I don’t want to be shaking hands with these guys after a series loss.”

The winner of this series meets the winner of the Las Vegas-Stockton Pacific Division final, tied 1-1, in the National Conference final.