Pictured in Belleville's Daniil Zharkov, who is circling the Kingston goal in a game last Wednesday night at Yardman Arena in Belleville. Zharkov and his linemates have had their way with the Frontenacs in the last couple of weeks, beating them 8-2, twice.
The Kingston Frontenacs started their week on Wednesday night in Belleville. They were looking to avenge an 8-2, home ice, humiliation the last time the Bulls were in Kingston, on January 11th. The first 3 meetings of the season were very competitive, low scoring, games, that could have gone either way. The Frontenacs were hoping that the season series would return to that competitiveness.
Unfortunately for Kingston, the Bulls came out flying on home ice, in front of 2712 fans at the Yardman Arena. The Fronts had some early chances, with 7 shots in the game's first 5 minutes, but seemed content to test Bulls' starter, Malcolm Subban from long range.
Belleville opened the scoring at 4:38 of the first, when Kingston left Daniil Zharkov alone in the slot. Former Front, Alan Quine, showed great vision to hit him and Zharkov made no mistake to make it 1-0, on Belleville's second shot on goal. Two minutes later a Frontenac defender gave the puck away in his own zone to allow Carter Sandlak to get a quality chance on starter Mike Morrison. Morrison looked bad on the 3rd Bulls' goal by defenseman, Stephan Silas, who let go a, seemingly harmless, wrist shot from well out. A neutral zone giveaway gave the Zharkov, Quine, Cramarossa line an opportunity to score late in the first period, and they made no mistake. It was Quine who beat Morrison. The shots were even at 11, but where it mattered most, Belleville had a 4-0 lead after 1.
Another lost puck battle by a Front defender resulted in the 5th goal by the Bulls early in the 2nd period. Garrett Hooey outmuscled Michael Moffat for the puck in the corner, and fed Michael Curtis, who beat Morrison. The rout was on at Yardman. Morrison's night ended when Jordan Subban busted through the Fronts' porous defense, and blasted one past him, blocker side. Morrison had made 9 saves, and had allowed 6 goals in 27 minutes of work. Colin Furlong was summoned from the bench.
The goaltending change seemed to spark the Frontenacs, at least in the short term, as they did manage to outshoot Belleville 16-14 in the 2nd period. Big winger, Jean Dupuy spoiled Subban's shutout at the 9 minute mark of the period on a nice setup from linemate, Slater Doggett. The Fronts celebrated in a way that would have made Grapes happy - none at all. Mid way through the game, they were playing like a defeated team. Belleville lead 6-1. Daniil Zharkov would complete his hat trick with two goals in the last half of the 2nd period, and the game was officially a laugher.
Rookie, Sam Bennett would score the only goal of the third, in a period where it was obvious the Bulls had taken their foot off of the gas for. For the second consecutive game, Belleville had crushed the Frontenacs, 8-2.
On Friday night, there were 4461 fans at K-Rock Centre to cheer on the Frontenacs and the Barrie Colts. One thing that hasn't wavered in their slump has been fan support.
Like so many times during their losing skid, the Frontenacs came out strong and took it to their opponents. They had a 7-1 lead in shots in the first 6 minutes of the game, but couldn't beat Barrie's backup goalie, Alex Fotinos. Kingston's back-up Colin Furlong got the call for the Fronts and made some good saves. The first period was scoreless, much to the delight of the Frontenac's coaching staff.
Spencer Watson opened the scoring with a beauty of a wrist shot from the slot, to give the Frontenacs' a 1-0 lead, early in the 2nd period. Coach Gill chose to reunite the rookie line for this one, and it paid dividends, as Henri Ikonen, and Sam Bennett drew the assists on Watson's 16th of the season.
Moments later, Kingston's captain Cody Alcock, in attempting to hip check an opposing playing crossing the middle, accidently hit Henri Ikonen, who was injured enough to miss a shift or two. That's how it's gone lately for the Fronts. Instead of sagging, Kingston's Sam Bennett made it 2-0 on the rookie line's next shift. Filling in for Ikonen, Slater Doggett found Bennett at the side of the net and he made no mistake. It was 2-0 Kingston a minute past the half way point in the hockey game.
Colin Furlong made some big saves in the second period to send the Fronts to the dressing room with a 2-0 lead.
Ryan Hutchinson answered the bell twice in this one, scoring the knock down on C.J. Garcia, then holding his own in a scrap that saw Jake Dotchin get a game misconduct for hauling off Ryan's helmet. Barrie's coach, former NHLer, Dale Hawerchuk "blew a gasket" on Barrie's bench when he learned of the ejection. This seemed to "spark" the Colts, as 3 and a half minutes later, Zach Hall scored on Barrie's powerplay. The powerplay was awarded to the Colts, after a linesman deemed the Frontenacs had too many men on the ice. It was Coach Gill's turn to be upset, as this was a marginal call, at best. Regardless, the Colts were on the board, down 2-1.
Unfortunately the Fronts were caught running around a bit in their own zone, and Zach Hall outmuscled a Front in the corner, and fed an open Anthony Camara in the slot. Camara banged one in, to tie the game, with less than 2 minutes to play. Despite some late pressure by the Colts, Kingston managed to hold on to force overtime, and get at least a point.
The Frontenacs seemed to have the better of the chances in overtime, but goalie Alex Fotinos shut the door on Ryan Kujawinski from directly in front to send the game to a shootout.
Fotinos came up big in the shootout denying all 3 Frontenac shooters, to preserve the Colts' road win, and to extend Kingston's winless streak to 10 games.
Backup goalie, Colin Furlong, obviously impressed the coaches enough on Friday night to get the nod on Sunday afternoon, at K-Rock Centre against the weary Sarnia Sting, who had lost to the 67s in Ottawa on Friday night, and to the Bulls in Belleville, on Saturday night. Surely this would be the game to end the Fronts' 10 game losing streak!
One of the things that the coaches have been stressing to the young Fronts is to stay out of the penalty box. Unfortunately this message continues to fall upon deaf ears. Kingston took the first 5 minor penalties of this game, to really put pressure on the young defense, still missing the team's only NHL drafted player, Mikko Vainonen, who was serving his last game of a 10 game suspension. It's the nature of these penalties that continues to puzzle, and dismay Coach Gill. Players have been taking offensive zone penalties, and selfish penalties such as slashing, and hooking.
Ironically, Frontenacs' forward, Henri Ikonen opened the scoring in this game, on a beautiful, shorthanded breakaway, early in the 1st. Ikonen intercepted a D to D pass and stormed in on Sting starter, J.P. Anderson, and slid the puck under his pads, as he moved from his right to his left in the crease. A minute and a half later, on Kingston's second penalty, Reid Boucher scored his first of 3 powerplay goals on the afternoon, after a Front had lost a draw in his own zone. Kingston had the better of the opportunities in the middle part of the period, but J.P. Anderson kept his team in the game. Kingston had a goal called back, as the replay determined that a Frontenac had directed a point shot in, with a high stick. It looked for a long time like Kingston would escape the period tied, but with 18 seconds to go, Boucher would connect again on the powerplay. A Frontenac forward had been called for closing his hand on the puck to give the Sting the powerplay. Kingston outshot Sarnia 14-9 in the first, despite being shorthanded 4 times.
The tables were turned in the 2nd period, as Sarnia took 4 consecutive minor penalties, and relied on Anderson to keep them in the game. It was on the 4th of these minors that the Fronts finally beat him. In fact, the Fronts had a 2 man advantage. By keeping it simple, getting traffic in front of Anderson, Kingston's rookie, Spencer Watson, banged home a rebound from a nice low point shot by Warren Steele. The Fronts had tied it at two, and that's how the 2nd frame would end. Kingston had a 32-20 shot advantage, and were feeling good about themselves.
Early in the 3rd, Nickolas Latta was left wide open to the right of goalie, Furlong. Daniel Nikandrov spotted Latta and hit him with a nice pass, and before Furlong to get over there, Latta had given the Sting a 3-2 lead. The Fronts took three consecutive penalties in the third to squash any attempt to gain some momentum, to take advantage of a tired Sting team.
Reid Boucher completed his hat trick, again on the powerplay, at 5:23 of the 3rd. This was Boucher's OHL leading 45th of the season. Latta would score his second to make the final score 5-2, and extend Kingston's losing streak to 11 games.
The Frontenacs travel to Mississauga on Wednesday night to try to break the streak, with a game against the struggling Steelheads. On Friday night they will host the Bulls, who have beaten them 8-2 twice in the last couple of weeks, including last Wednesday night in Belleville. The weekend ends on Sunday when the Fronts host the Windsor Spitfires. With the Petes hot on their tails, a 4 point + weekend would be just what the doctor ordered for the young Fronts, but for now a win in Mississauga would get a huge monkey off of their backs!