BRANDON, Man. -- As far as Windsor Spitfires forward Taylor Hall was concerned, scoring on the best goaltender in the Western Hockey League, was just as simple as parking his car.
The 18-year-old only needed 12 seconds in the third period to crush the hopes of the Calgary Hitmen when he beat goaltender Martin Jones through the five-hole en route to Windsor’s 6-2 victory in Game 4 of the MasterCard Memorial Cup on Monday night.
At the start of the third period, with Windsor protecting a 3-2 lead, Hall cut off a pass between two Calgary defenders and skated into the offensive zone on a breakaway.
“I intercepted the pass and opened up the garage door on [Jones] a little bit,” Hall said of the goal. He parked the puck through the goalie’s five-hole and into the back of the net for his second goal of the game. What’s even more frightening is that Hall’s description of the play was as simple as he made it look on the ice.
Jones, an L.A. Kings prospect, had the lowest goals against average in the WHL in both the regular season (2.21) and playoffs (2.36) and led the league with eight shutouts.
“I faked that I was going to go backhand and to the top shelf and went through his five-hole instead,” Hall said. “He kind of had his stick lifted a little bit and I could slide it through.
“I knew that if I could sell the fake I could pull it off.”
The Spitfires, who have won 10 consecutive postseason games since losing to the Kitchener Rangers in Game 3 of their Western Conference final, will face the Moncton Wildcats (0-2) on Tuesday. Hall admits he went on a freelance assignment during the play, breaking from Windsor head coach Bob Boughner system but that being able to dangle one-on-one unimpeded by those pesky defencemen was a nice change from the monotony of using his speed to slide past, or split through the blueline.
“It was a little bit of a change, I haven’t scored on a breakaway in a while,” said Hall, nonchalantly. “That was nice.”
In his first two games of the tournament Hall, projected to go either first or second in the June NHL entry draft, has already scored four goals and added one assist. He’s on pace to break his points total from last year’s tournament, where he was named tournament MVP, with two goals and six assists in six games.
“You’re either one step ahead of him, or he’s burning you on the wide side and taking it to the net and making you look silly,” said Hitmen co-captain Ian Schultz.
“What was it  seconds into the period? You know that’s [a dagger] right through the heart.”
During the morning media availability, Hall stood behind a barricade in the mixed zone surrounded by cameras and microphones. Many of the questions focused mainly on Hall’s familiarity with Calgary’s Jones, since the two played together with Canada’s world junior squad that won silver in Saskatoon. He patiently answers every question, generally using the same phrases: world class and great goaltender.
Quietly, after the rest of the pack is gone Hall confides, “there’s only so much I can say about a goalie I’ve played with for two weeks.”
With the NHL draft approaching next month the left-winger is more than making a case to usurp Plymouth Whalers star centre Tyler Seguin, who was the selected by NHL Central Scouting to go No.1. The Edmonton Oilers have the top pick in the draft and team general manager Steve Tambellini and president Kevin Lowe were both at Westman Place for the game, leading to some speculation they had come to meet with Hall.
“I heard that apparently I was seen talking to them and I didn’t even know that they were here,” Hall said. “So that’s kind of funny.”
- Windsor Spitfires
- Taylor Hall
- Calgary Hitmen