Eugene, OR – The #3 Eugene Generals (0-2-0, 0 points) will host the #2 Bellingham Blazers (2-0-0, 0 points) at the Rink Exchange this Friday for the third game in this best of five series. While hosting the Generals up in Bellingham – Washington – last weekend, the Blazers were able to capture the first two games in this series. During the first game, the Blazers were able to beat the Generals, 6 – 2. Then during the second game, the Blazers completed the home sweep of the Generals after beating them 4 – 1.
Special teams played a huge factor in deciding the victor during each game for both teams last weekend. For the Generals, the team gave up six power play goals, which breaks down to three goals per game. While the Blazers gave up two power play goals to the Generals, but that was during the first game in this series.
During the 40-game regular season, special teams was one of the strongest components for the Generals. The Generals had the second highest penalty kill percentage in the league at 87.94 percent. In addition to this, the Generals also had the third lowest power play goals against at 24 goals, which is only one goal behind the second place team, the Blazers.
Between the Blazers and the Generals, the teams were pretty equal when it came to the power play. Both teams recorded 31 power play goals during the regular season, but the Generals did have a higher conversion percentage at 17.13 percent.
Despite these team’s similarities during the regular season, the Blazers have been able to take advantage of six of the team’s 14 power play opportunities during this playoff series. Whereas the Generals have capitalized on two of their 11 power play opportunities.
Justin Kern, the Generals’ head coach, discussed what the team will need to do to capture their first victory in this series. Kern said, “the boys need to dig deep and they need to play together. We need to be more aggressive on our forecheck while getting more shots on net. We aren’t going to be able to win games while we are in the penalty box.”
The Blazers’ special teams unit wasn’t the only highlight of the first two games in this playoff series last weekend. But the Blazers’ goalies, Broderick Parker and Christopher Alexakis, both shined on Saturday and Sunday. Parker played the first game against the Generals as he saw 32 shots and stopped all but two. This gave him a .938 save percentage for the game, which is .023 percentage points higher than his 2015 – 2016 regular season average.
As for Alexakis, the young man continued to play phenomenal hockey, as he has done all season. During his first appearance against the Generals in this series, Alexakis saw 31 shots while stopping all but one. This one goal against is similar to his regular season goals against average, which was 1.31 goals. Alexakis continues to be a reliable backstop for the Blazers no matter how bright the spotlight.
Mark Collins, the Blazers’ head coach, commented about what the team will need to do to send the Blazers to their fourth straight championship series appearance. Collins said, “our team will need to continue to play disciplined hockey. The Generals have a strong power play and we don’t want to give them too many chances.”
This series will continue on Friday, March 18th, at the Rink Exchange in Eugene, Oregon. The puck is scheduled to drop at 7:35 pm (PST). If the Generals win this game, they will force a game four which would be held on Saturday, March 19th, at the same time and place.
Tune in to the league’s website for a full recap following the conclusion of the game!
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