GREENSBORO - In some ways, Game 2 of the 2014 XHL Cup Final was similar to the previous night's Game 1. Both games saw the Greensboro Swordsmen take an early lead while overwhelming the underdog Oakland Seals, and both games also saw the Swordsmen win.
But the two comparisons likely end there between the pace and style of the first two games. This time, once Greensboro took the commanding early lead, they never looked back in grabbing a 2-0 series lead.
The powerful top line of Greensboro combined for nine points - three points each - including a hat trick by Nick Schultz as the Swordsmen defeated the Seals 6-3 to go up two games as the series shifts from the East Coast to the West.
"I think the whole team knew that we didn't want a repeat of last night," said Schultz. "The important thing is that our offense has been at the top of its game and we've done the job that we've needed to do, so hopefully we can continue this out in Oakland."
The other parts of the Swordsmen top line - Devin Setoguchi (goal, two assists) and Thomas Vanek (three helpers) also had big nights as Greensboro's amazing playoff run stretched to eight straight wins.
As was the case in Game 1, the Swordsmen came out with a smothering offensive attack that saw Oakland goalie Tim Thomas chased from a game for the first time in these playoffs after surrendering his fourth goal in just 7:51 of the first period.
Jamie McBain opened the scoring 2:59 into the first with his second of the year, followed at 6:47 by Schultz's 12th. Schultz added his second of the game and 13th of the period 56 seconds later to make it a three-goal lead, and Tim Kunes capped the stretch eight seconds later with his third as the Swordsmen jumped out to a 4-0 lead.
"I just didn't have it tonight," said Thomas. "They're a great team with a lot of weapons, and they can attack quickly. I wasn't as good as I should be, but I'm ready for the next game."
Greensboro attacked early and often in the first, but a late Oakland flourish ensured that Greensboro only had a 20-17 shots edge after the first. And as it turned out, that late period surge by the Seals would carry over to the second.
The Seals out-shot Greensboro 11-10 in the second and despite solid play by Craig Anderson, Oakland would cash in at 11:39 on Igor Grigorenko's fifth of the year. Then after a Kunes hooking call at 14:50, shades of last night began to appear as Matt Ryan scored his sixth on the power play at 15:24 as the Seals cut the deficit to 4-2 entering the third.
But there would be no such talk of another comeback for the ages for Oakland on this night as Setoguchi put home his tenth of the playofs at 10:06 to make it 5-2. And despite Brett Carson's first less than a minute later at 10:52 making it a two-goal game once again, Schultz capped off his great night with a hat trick at 13:46 as the Swordsmen cemented the 2-0 series lead.
2014 XHL CUP FINAL
Tuesday, September 2 - Simming at aprox. 11:48 PM EST - All times Eastern - Jersey color in parentheses
Greensboro (white) at Oakland (alternate) - 8 PM - NBC, CBC, Radio-Canada (Greensboro leads series 2-0)