Overcoming the odds is nothing new to Gasper Kopitar. His hockey career has taken him from a brief stint with the WHL Portland Winterhawks to captaining the Des Moines Buccaneers of the USHL. He then went to Europe and played for Mora IK, where his brother Anze later joined him during the 2012 NHL lockout. Now, for the second straight season, he’s a member of the Ontario Reign. More importantly, his team holds a 3-2 lead in the ECHL’s Western Conference Final and they’ll be looking for a win in one of the next two games to punch their ticket to the Kelly Cup Final.
They were hoping to close the series out Sunday night in Ontario, but things didn’t exactly go as planned. Up 2-1 after 40 minutes, the Reign gave up five goals to the visiting Allen Americans in the final frame and now the teams will travel to Texas to wrap things up.
Kopitar shared the following with MayorsManor about what happened and where things go from here…
On when the tides turned in Game 5:
“Their tying goal there. I think it went off of Bigos’ skate and in. We were a little off balance there and I think we got a little too aggressive within our zone. They capitalized, they’re a good team and they’re here for a reason. Conference Finals, they’re not here by Fluke. We have to play for 60 minutes and not just 40. We’re going into a building where we’ve won before, so we’ve got to bring it on Tuesday.”
On the effect the fluky goal had on the Game 5:
“You work the whole penalty kill, kill it off. As soon as you think you there you step on the ice and the puck goes off a skate and in, it’s going to happen. But you’ve got to put it in the back of your mind and keep playing. We didn’t do that and the next shift was not very good. We’ve just got to play.”
On having to win the clinching game on the road in Allen:
“We’re up 3-2 still here. Were going to be going in there confident and just trying to play our game. We know what we have to do to win a road game and we’ve done it before. We’ve done it in Colorado, we’ve done it in Utah and we’ve done it in Allen. We just got to go in there and play our game.”
On any confidence boost the team would get from clinching the series on the road:
“A lot, I think. Winning Game 5 in Utah shows the character of this team; to go on the road and close teams down. We have to do that on Tuesday.”
On if the offense was missing the boost it received from the power plays during Game 4:
“No, Saturday [Game 4] everything was going in. Everything we threw on net was going in and you’re not going to have those games every time. We were in a good position heading into the third period [of Game 5] with a 2-1 lead. We’ve done it before. In the playoffs too, but especially in the regular season too, but it didn’t work out Sunday. New game on Tuesday.”
On if Game 5 felt closer than the scoreboard indicated it was:
“They got that last power play goal there, but we were trying to score. So when you’re trying to score, it maybe gives them odd man rushes down at the other end. They’re a great team, they’re going to capitalize on those chances and we were going for it.”