With sharp passing and skating, The Whitebirds continued to get the better of the ensuing action, but had no more to show on the scoreboard for all their dominance on the ice. With 7 minutes remaining in the period, the puck disappeared in a flurry of bodies and sticks around the Whitebird crease that ended in a goal for probing Blackbird forward, Julius Antilla (36), with assists from crease-crashing forwards Chris Gargano (15) and Sasha Rich (21).
With just 1:45 remaining in the period and a man down, the forechecking Espagnol - Liu tandem struck, yet, again as Theo intercepted an askant Blackbird clearing pass and whipped a cross-creaser to Brandon, who made short work from the doorstep. The period, marked by a show of teamwork, passing, and hustle from both squads, ended in a 3-1 Whitebird lead.
Blackbird Coach, John Rich, used every moment of the intermission to implore his team to "clear the puck" and to call for "more motion," "more puck movement" and "more shots!" But, a mere 30 seconds into period 2, things worsened for the Blackbirds. With some nifty skating, Whitebird forward/defenseman, Brad Larson (95), cleared the puck from his defensive zone and found himself and teammate, Theo Espagnol, in a high-speed 2 on 1 against Blackbird goalie, Hubert Nunes. As they converged on the crease, the duo, testing Nunes' patience threshold, cooly pin-balled the puck back and forth across the goal front until Brad exploited the upper void left by the lunging Nunes, and cinched the nylon for a 4-1 Whitebird lead. The Whitebirds looked bold and unbeatable.
At 17:10 of the period, though, Blackbird Forward, Julius Antilla, scored again - this time with a high pinger from the lower left face-off circle - after chasing down a long clearing pass from defenseman, William Melin (74). Perhaps not a turning point, but certainly a much-needed boost and a sign - if only to themselves - that the Blackbirds had not relinquished all hope and effort.
The Blackbirds' play took on renewed intensity, but U10 Select goalie, Myles Ma, turned back one hectic charge after another with highlight reel saves and scrambles in a tense man down situation. Finally, at 5:50, and after having being repeatedly denied by Myles, Eero Eronen, since shifted by Coach Rich to the forward position, found the high opposite corner of the goal on a behind-the-net pass from forward Julius Antilla. A minute later, Julius and Eero copied their prior efforts to the same end. The Whitebirds had clawed back to tie the score at four.
As the 2nd period ended and his Whitebirds flocked before him, Coach Lijim Lau spoke in disbelieving tones: "They are outplaying us! They are outfighting us for the puck! Guys, we must win every puck battle! And, keep passing!" Assistant Coach, Benny Keden, added, succinctly: "Don't wait for it to happen. Be aggressive. Make it happen!"
The 3rd period began and the Whitebirds took their flying orders in earnest, but Blackbird goalie Hubert Nunes kept strict order, denying each and all, and left no scraps for the opportunistic. On the offensive end, the sick one - Eero Eronen - played with unequaled fervor and his teammates followed cue. At 11:10, and as bodies lay sprawled around the crease, Eero snagged a pass from forward Patrick Koppitz (2) and sent it out to the upper slot, where a salivating William Melin lay alone in wait. William blasted a high shot above the fallen mass to put the Blackbirds up 5-4.
At the 8:30 mark, Eero grabbed an errant shot and, from behind the Whitebird goal, played cat and mouse with goalie and defenders alike as he created the space he needed to squeeze a pass through to forward Julius Antilla, who punched home his third goal of the day and gave the Blackbirds breathing room at 6-4.
After more than 5 minutes of intense action between the teams, Chris Cargano, with assists from Eero Eronen and Patrick Koppitz, tapped a puck through the crease scrum to further the Blackbird lead to 7-4. The Whitebirds, tired and seemingly broken, though, continued the fight. At 2:05, Whitebird defenseman, Carson Nisbeth (22) with a long, in-stride tape to tape clearing pass, set up streaking forward, Viggo Keden (19), for a fast break. With diminishing clock and just a defender to beat, Viggo carved his way to the lower faceoff circle and wristed the puck half way up and just inside the left upright. 7-5, Blackbirds.
With 1 minute remaining, William Melin authoritatively hammered the final nail with his patented slap shot - the circumstances and result being no different from the last. Assist to Chris Gargano and Eero Eronen.
Facing a tough opponent and a growing mound of adversity, the Blackbirds showed uncommon pluck and perseverance to overcome and notch an 8-5 game victory and a 1-0 playoff lead.