Bullfrogs Coach Grant Sonier sat in the stands two hours before Sunday’s Western Conference semifinal and talked about discipline.
“Tonight,” Sonier said, “is not the night for personal vendettas.”
Which can be a pretty tough request when the Bullfrogs play San Diego. Two teams, two passionate dislikes for the other.
Personal vendettas aside, the Bullfrogs took great delight in eliminating the Barracudas, 9-7, in the second game of a three-game Roller Hockey International playoff series in front of an announced crowd of 8,541 at The Pond.
Now, the top-seeded Bullfrogs wait for the Vancouver-San Jose series winner; San Jose leads, 1-0. A series against San Jose would begin Thursday; against Vancouver, Wednesday.
The Bullfrogs won five of six games this season against San Diego, but the Barracudas provide plenty of emotional distraction.
“It’s a love-hate relationship,” Sonier said of his team’s rival. “We love to beat them and hate to play them.”
The two combined for 113 penalty minutes in Game 1. Sunday’s Game 2 was milder--only 35 1/2 penalty minutes.
Daniel Shank, the Bullfrogs’ playoff scoring leader (13 points), missed Sunday’s game because he was ejected late in Game 1.
Darren Perkins picked up the scoring slack. The fourth-leading scorer, he had his first three goals of the playoffs Sunday.
“He has a big shot and can score when he has to,” goaltender Rob Laurie said. “He’s sure made the difference for us since the first game of the playoffs.”
That was the game the Bullfrogs lost against the Blades; Perkins missed that game because he was suspended--for slashing--in the last game of the regular season against San Diego.
Shank wasn’t the only starter missing. Simon Bibeau played in place of Steve Cadieux, who injured his back in Game 1, a 10-3 Bullfrog victory. Bibeau gave the Bullfrogs a 6-3 lead Sunday, with his first goal of the season, but the Barracudas closed the gap to 6-5 on goals by Alan Leggett and Lev Berdichevsky in the final 2:01 of the third quarter.
That comeback was academic, though, after Perkins scored 31 seconds into the fourth quarter, and Brad McCaughey (two goals, four assists) and Victor Gervais (two goals, three assists) followed suit over the next four minutes. The Bullfrogs also got some terrific penalty killing in the final quarter.
“All the trash talk prior to the game was thrown by the wayside when the game started,” Sonier said. "[The Barracudas] knew they couldn’t afford to do that and we couldn’t afford to lose our focus.
“Luckily we didn’t get caught up in the emotion that takes away from our game. We made some mental mistakes but still managed to win.”
Laurie, who had given up only three goals in his previous three games, wasn’t nearly as spectacular as he was in Game 1 in which he stopped 27 of 29 shots. He finished with 32 saves.