Jordan Binnington is turning the Owen Sound Attack's three-headed goaltending monster into a one-man show.
The 17-year-old from Richmond Hill, Ont., stopped 29 shots Saturday to lead the Ontario Hockey League champions to a 5-0 win over the WHL's Kootenay Ice in the first game of the MasterCard Memorial Cup for both teams.
The six-foot-two, 165-pound Binnington is the youngest of the tournament's four starting goaltenders but was especially strong in the second period when Kootenay outshot Owen Sound 15-6 but trailed 2-0 heading into the third. Binnington also took a shot off the mask early in the final period and needed a little time to repair a strap but wasn't injured or fazed before a Hershey Centre gathering of 5,429.
Binnington, Michael Zador and Scott Stajcer have all played during the playoffs for Owen Sound. But Binnington has started the Attack's last three games - the club's final two contests of its seven-game OHL final win over Mississauga and its Memorial Cup opener.
"I thought Jordan had an outstanding game," Attack coach Mark Reeds said. "Again, that's what we expect from all our goaltenders when they have the opportunity to play.
"We expect them to step up and make the best of an opportunity."
Binnington said he didn't step on to the ice thinking about registering the shutout, and with good reason. It was his first of the playoffs and just his second in two seasons with the Attack.
"Absolutely not," he said. "I don't normally get shutouts and I was pretty happy when the buzzer went."
Despite his recent success, Binnington wasn't about to say he has cemented himself as the club's No. 1 goalie.
"We're all solid goalies, everyone on the team believes in all three goalies we have. We come to the rink to work."
Robby Mignardi scored twice for the Attack, while Roman Berdnikov, with a goal and an assist, Garrett Wilson and Andrew Fritsch also scored. Mignardi scored shorthanded and Fritsch and Wilson connected on the power play in the third to cement the win for Owen Sound.
It wasn't all good news for Owen Sound, however, as star forward Joey Hishon left the game bloodied and wobbly in the third after taking an elbow to the head from Kootenay's Brayden McNabb. The Ice captain was assessed a five-minute major and misconduct on the play.
Kootenay coach Kris Knoblauch doesn't believe the six-foot-four, 218-pound McNabb deserves to be suspended for his hit on the five-foot-10, 170-pound Hishon. Knoblauch said Hishon lowered himself on the play, which made it difficult for the bigger McNabb to make the necessary adjustment.
A decision on McNabb's status is expected to be rendered Sunday.
"It was a very difficult situation, you have a player who is six-foot-four stepping up to make a hit on a player who is five-foot-10," Knoblauch said. "Joey Hishon is an excellent hockey player and got his head up at the last minute and was trying to dodge that play so he lowers himself trying to get out of the way.
"So now you have a five-foot-10 player who is a little bit smaller than that and it was pretty tough for Brayden McNabb to get out of the way and finish that check."
Reeds was critical of the hit but wouldn't say whether McNabb should be suspended.
"Yes he is obviously six-foot-four and Joey Hishon is five-foot-10 but again still his elbow came out and made contact with his head and in the Ontario Hockey League that's a head shot," Reeds said. "I understand we're playing CHL rules and again he is a big part of Kootenay.
"I'm not part of the process that dictates these things, I'll leave that up the people that do that."
Both teams were back on the ice after lengthy delays. The Ice played its first game since clinching the Western Hockey League title against Portland on May 13, while the Attack's last contest was its overtime win in Game 7 of the OHL final over Mississauga here Sunday.
Kootenay doesn't have much time to worry about the loss. The Ice are back in action Sunday night against the Majors, who lost their opening game 4-3 to the Saint John Sea Dogs on Friday.
"Throughout the playoffs we always played back-to-back and two of the four series we played we lost the first game and came back and played very well," Knoblauch said. "Throughout the regular season it was kind of comical, we were awful in the second game of back-to-back games but we got better as the year went on.
"In the playoffs we were outstanding the second night. You don't win or lose this tournament on opening night. We've got a lot of time to rebound."
After the Ice couldn't convert three straight power-play chances in an entertaining first period, a wide-open Mignardi scored at 16:49 from the slot. And Owen Sound's Cameron Brace narrowly missed making it 2-0 shortly after, putting a backhand off the crossbar.
Ice goalie Nathan Lieuwen, who stopped 27 shots, robbed Owen Sound's Matt Stanisz early in the second on the power play to keep it a one-goal contest. But that was short-lived as Berdnikov scored at 3:30 to put the Attack ahead 2-0.
Kootenay finished the regular season fourth in the WHL's Eastern Conference, but posted a 16-3 playoff record en route to capturing its third WHL crown. The Ice went winless in its first Memorial Cup appearance in 2000 before winning it all in 2002.
Owen Sound finished eighth in the Canadian Hockey League's top-10 ranking and posted a 16-6 playoff record in earning the first OHL title in the club's 22-year history after relocating from Guelph, Ont. Reeds was named the league's top coach after guiding the Attack to a 46-17-5 record, second only to St. Mike's (53-13-2).
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