Toronto finds the win column

Matthew
Matthew Gourlie
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Loss drops Halifax to tournament cellar

It wasn't pretty, but it might be vital.

Justin Herman, right, from the Toronto Young Nationals looks for a rebound in front of Halifax McDonald's goalie Reilly Pickard and defenceman Ryan MacEachen in Telus Cup action Tuesday.

The Toronto Young Nationals prevailed with a scrappy 3-0 win over the Halifax McDonald's Tuesday at the Telus Cup.

The win levels the Nationals record at 1-1, while the McDonald's only have one point following their 2-2 tie with Moose Jaw to open the tournament.

"We started off with a loss and we had to bounce back and get the W," said Toronto's Tyler Longo. "We came together in the end and battled hard in the third."

Longo scored twice in the third period to make the score more comfortable than it was for most of the game.

Both teams struggled to generate chances in the first two periods.

Toronto's Nik Kalpouzos opened the scoring early in the second period. The defenceman faked a shot and was able to find a shooting lane to beat Macs goalie Reilly Pickard through traffic to

The Nationals earned five straight power plays in the middle frame — including two brief 5-on-3s — but failed to add to their lead.

"For me the story of the game was the second period when we sat in the box for … quite some time," said Halifax head coach Tim Boyce. "Some guys battled hard, but I wouldn't say that some guys battled smart at times."

After combining for six shots in the first period, Halifax was out-shooting Toronto 10-9 after 40 minutes.

Despite the lack of shots, the was no lack of power play opportunities. Toronto finished 0-for-10 on the power play and Halifax was 0-for-8.

"We took way too many penalties and were undisciplined," said Boyce. "If you can't get your power play going in this tournament you're not going to be successful. 

"It was a pretty disappointing loss." 

Even in the win, the Nationals knew they need their special teams to be better and to spend more time playing five-on-five.

"We had our chances. We didn't finish on them, but we did have some chances," said Longo of the power play. "We need to be more disciplined and stay out of the box."

Early in the third period, Nationals goalie Izzy Benigno was able to keep his skate on the post at full stretch to rob Halifax's Dillon Boucher.

Less than a minute later, Longo broke in on a two-on-one chance and beat Pickard with a wrist shot high to the glove side. He converted a nice feed from Max Routledge to net his second. Routledge also finished with two assists.

"My linemates set me up, so I can't take all of the credit," said Longo. "I saw Routledge coming out of the corner and he found me so I had to bury for him."

After two days of action Halifax is in last place with one point and they know they have a lot of work ahead of them to fight their way into the semifinals.

"We're in an uphill battle, there's no question. We thought the host game and this game against Toronto would be two of our better opportunities," said Boyce. "We're playing three very good hockey clubs in the next three days. We're not going to quit. We know there's still an opportunity. A win or two, or a win and a tie might get us into the weekend."

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