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Owen Sound Attack forward Andrew Fritsch tries to get a shot on Mississauga St. Michael's Majors goalie J.P. Anderson (L) during the first period of their Memorial Cup round-robin ice hockey game in Mississauga May 25, 2011.


As far as junior hockey coaches go, Mississauga St. Michael's Majors bench boss Dave Cameron has a wee bit of Confucius in him.

And his wisdom on Wednesday, heading into a pivotal MasterCard Memorial Cup game against the Owen Sound Attack - a team that's had the Majors' number - rang especially true.

"You can't undo your past," Cameron mused, "but you can learn from it."

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A few hours later, the Majors showed just what he meant, too.

In a rematch between the two OHL finalists, Mississauga finally came out on top, taking advantage of an undisciplined effort by the Attack to cap the tournament's round robin with a 3-1 win.

Both clubs will live to play another day, but this was still a considerable measure of redemption for the home side given the Attack had snatched the league title away from the favoured Majors only 10 days earlier.

With that as the backdrop, players on both sides had branded the game "a war" heading in, well aware the affair was essentially a must-win for a Majors team that lost four of its last five games against the Attack in frittering away a 2-0 series lead in the OHL championship.

It lived up to its billing from the get-go, too, with Majors forward Joseph Cramarossa dumped into his own bench early on and the rough play escalating from there.

Owen Sound got the worst of things in the form of trips to the box, as it was whistled for seven penalties in the first period and six in the second - seven more than Mississauga - as the officials took heat from the many Attack fans in attendance.

One of the casualties of the physical play was Owen Sound captain Garrett Wilson, who went hard into the boards in the first period and didn't return to the game.

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Already missing star forward Joey Hishon, who sat a second game with a concussion suffered in their opening game of the tournament, the Attack appeared punch-less for much of the contest, with the Majors running away 18-5 on the shot clock deep into the second frame.

"Joey's day-to-day," Attack coach Mark Reeds said after the game. "Truthfully, he's sitting in the dark in his room, so that doesn't bode well for him.

"As far as Garrett goes, when an athlete starts asking the same question over and over again, then that's room to have concern ... It's an unfortunate part of sport. It's something we have to deal with."

The penalty parade, meanwhile, allowed the Majors to hold a huge advantage in play, with centre Jordan Mayer opening the scoring by putting a fluttering shot under the arm of Attack netminder Jordan Binnington eight minutes in.

Owen Sound, however, caught a break when centre Andrew Shaw whacked in a rebound to tie the game midway through the second.

Even at 1-1, his team continued to lose its composure and pile into the penalty box, allowing Mississauga's struggling power play to finally strike when Rob Flick netted his second game-winner in a row.

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From there, the Majors hung on for dear life, clinging to the one-goal lead for most of the final 20 minutes before Justin Shugg salted the win away with an empty-netter.

"A really poor choice of penalties led to a 5-on-3, they capitalized and that's all she wrote," Reeds said, clearly frustrated with his team's play.

Overall, it wasn't all that pretty - with Mississauga going shot-less for the first 12 minutes of the third and shooting well wide of the empty net once - but it was a win, one the host team desperately needed.

For all the pregame talk, what this game was really about was earning a rest - something that, in a pressure-packed, 10-day tournament, is of immeasurable value.

Going in, both teams knew whoever lost would then have to win two games in two nights just to qualify for Sunday's final against the Saint John Sea Dogs. (The tiebreaker against the Kootenay Ice is Thursday, with the winner there advancing to the semi-final.)

The winner, meanwhile, earned Thursday off, needing only a win Friday to move on and play for the Cup.

"It's huge," Majors winger Devante Smith-Pelly said. "If you do end up coming out of the tiebreaker, that's three [games]in three [nights]and it ends up being four in five [with the final] The day of rest will do us well."

So Mississauga now waits, perhaps for yet another rematch with the team that has given it fits with a lot more on the line. The series between the two, after all, is now tied at four wins apiece - although the Attack are the only ones with a trophy to show for their efforts.

So far anyway.

"We analyzed losing that series," Cameron said of the heartbreak of the OHL final, a loss he felt took longer to get over than any other he's experienced in 30-plus years of high-level hockey. "That's part of getting over the disappointment of it. But it's done."

Ancient history, you could say.

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Hockey Reporter

James joined The Globe as an editor and reporter in the sports department in 2005 and now covers the NHL and the Toronto Maple Leafs. More

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