London Knights 3 @ Erie Otters 4
The London Knights rolled into Erie, Pennsylvania on Friday night, looking to erase a three-game losing streak at the expense of the last-place team in the Western Conference. The Erie Otters, however, had other plans, as Luke Cairns and Dane Fox scored in the game’s opening six minutes, giving the hometown Otters an early 2-0 lead. Matt Rupert’s 24th of the season would cut Erie’s lead in half before the first intermission, but Fox would restore the Otters two-goal advantage with a powerplay marker six minutes into the second, the only goal of the middle frame.
In the third, Bo Horvat put the Knights back within a goal just over four minutes in, setting up an exciting final period. The teams would exchange goals with little more than five minutes remaining, as Connor McDavid gave Erie a 4-2 lead before Ryan Rupert replied 83 seconds later. The Knights would press for the tying goal over the final five minutes, but Oscar Dansk and the Otters held on for the 4-3 upset.
With his two goals, as well as an assist, Erie’s Dane Fox was named the game’s first star, while teammate Connor Brown, who had three helpers, would be second star. London’s Max Domi was chosen as star number three, with two assists in the Knights’ fourth straight loss.
Sarnia Sting 2 @ Windsor Spitfires 1
In a game with huge playoff implications in the Western Conference, the seventh seeded Sarnia Sting went into Windsor to battle with the ninth-place Spitfires, who were looking to close the gap on the final playoff spot with a win at home. Both teams traded a number of chances in the first period, but neither found the back of the net until midway through period two, when Sarnia’s Reid Boucher became the OHL’s first 50-goal scorer of the season with a powerplay goal.
Windsor would score the equalizer early in the third period on a powerplay of their own courtesy of Remy Giftopoulos, but heartbreak would come with just thirteen seconds remaining in regulation, when Daniel Nikandrov finished a great pass from Charles Sarault, giving the Sting a 2-1 victory, and keeping the Spitfires seven points behind eighth-place with just thirteen games left.
Sarnia’s J.P. Anderson was named first star, stopping 31 of 32 Windsor shots for the win, and Nikandrov earned second star with the game-winning goal. Alex Aleardi was given a hometown courtesy star, and while he didn’t show up on the scoresheet, his solid physical play kept the Spits close.
Oshawa Generals 6 @ Saginaw Spirit 4
The Oshawa Generals went south of the border on Friday night, looking for their third straight victory, but would be facing a tough Saginaw Spirit club who had won eleven of their last fifteen games. The Spirit jumped ahead early, as Jimmy Lodge struck on the powerplay three minutes in, but the Generals would even the game just over a minute later on a powerplay of their own, as Scott Sabourin redirected a point shot past Jake Paterson in goal. After Colin Suellentrop gave Oshawa a 2-1 lead, Lodge struck again on another powerplay late in the first, sending the teams to the intermission tied at two.
Eric Locke gave the Spirit the lead just 33 second into the second, but the rest of the period belonged to the Generals. Oshawa would score three goals in 1:59, beginning with a Boone Jenner goal followed by a pair from Scott Laughton, the Flyers prospect giving the Generals a 5-3 lead after 40 minutes. Jimmy Lodge would complete the hat-trick for Saginaw early in the third period, cutting Oshawa’s lead to one, but Scott Laughton would finish his own hat-trick, scoring his 20th of the season with nine minutes remaining to round out the scoring.
Owen Sound Attack 4 @ Guelph Storm 2
When rivals like the Guelph Storm and Owen Sound Attack get together, you can almost guarantee chaos will ensue, and this game was no different, as the teams had 19 powerplays between them through the course of the night. Somewhere between all those penalties, the teams attempted to play some hockey as well. Midway through the first twenty, you guessed it, on a powerplay, Owen Sound’s Chris Bigras opened the scoring when he found himself open at the side of the net, converting a pass from Arturs Gavrus. A couple of minutes later, the Attack doubled their lead, courtesy of Holden Cook, before Guelph’s Ryan Horvat got one back before the end of the period. Late in period two, Daniel Catenacci would score his 30th of the season short-handed, restoring the Attack’s two goal lead after forty minutes. Brock McGinn would cut the lead back to one with a powerplay goal five minutes into the third, his 20th of the season, but Catenacci’s second of the game, into an empty net, would seal Owen Sound’s victory, along with a first star selection. Guelph’s McGinn would be the second star of the game, while Owen Sound’s Cody Ceci, who registered an assist, was the third star.
Plymouth Whalers 3 @ Kitchener Rangers 2 (SO)
An exciting game between two of the top teams in the Western Conference, the Plymouth Whalers and Kitchener Rangers would require a shootout to declare a victor on Friday night. The teams played a very tight scoreless first period, with both teams exchanging chances early on, but the opening goal of the game would come five minutes into the second, when Zach Lorentz of the Whalers struck short-handed for his 10th goal of the season. Before the end of the middle stanza, Matt Puempel would reply for the Rangers with his 25th goal, and his 26th of the season, six minutes into the third, put Kitchener ahead 2-1. Midway through the third, Vincent Trocheck pulled Plymouth even with his 41st of the year.
The teams would register ten shots between them over the five minute overtime period, with the Rangers throwing seven shots at Alex Nedeljkovic, but neither team found the winning goal in extra time. After the first three shooters for both teams were denied in the shootout, fourth shooter Stefan Noesen would score the winner for the Whalers, as they extend their lead in the league’s West Division.
Plymouth’s Nedeljkovic would be the first star Friday, after stopping 52 of 54 shots fired his way, plus an additional four shots in the shootout. With two goals, Puempel was named star number two, and Trocheck was chosen third star.
Belleville Bulls 1 @ Mississauga Steelheads 0
In what seemed to be the theme of the night, the Belleville Bulls and Mississauga Steelheads engaged in a rather chippy Eastern Conference battle on Friday night, and both goaltenders put on a clinic in their respective creases, making for an incredibly interesting one-goal game. The only goal of the contest came midway through the second period, when Daniil Zharkov struck on one of Belleville’s seven powerplay opportunities. The Steelheads couldn’t find an equalizing goal, despite outshooting the Bulls 37-32 on the night.
Charlie Graham stopped all 37 shots he faced to earn his third shutout of the season, as well as first star honours, while goal-scorer Zharkov picked up the second star. Mississauga’s Spenser Cobbold rounded out the three star selections.
Peterborough Petes 5 @ Ottawa 67s 1
The Peterborough Petes continued their push for the post-season in Ottawa Friday night, looking for their third victory in a row. Things started well for the home team, as the 67’s got the only goal of the opening period off of the stick of Sean Monahan. Monahan’s 24th of the season came just 1:25 into the contest, and stood as the game’s only goal until late in period two, when Brett Findlay’s powerplay marker pulled the Petes even. The goal, with five minutes left in the period, opened the floodgates for Peterborough, who poured two more goals in before the end of the period. Jonatan Tanus and Stephen Pierog gave the Petes a 3-1 lead after two, and they would put the game out of reach with two goals late in the third. Michael Clarke and Nick Ritchie scored the insurance markers that allowed Peterborough to keep pace with Kingston for the final playoff spot in the East.
Petes netminder Michael Giugovaz picked up the game’s first star, stopping 36 of 37 shots sent his way by Ottawa, while his teammate, Jonatan Tanus, earned the second star with a goal and an assist. Ottawa’s goalscorer, Monahan, would be named the third star.
Kingston Frontenacs 3 @ Sudbury Wolves 1
The Kingston Frontenacs came into action with just one win in their last fourteen games, while the Sudbury Wolves have been one of the better teams in the Eastern Conference over the past several weeks. The game was a must-win for Kingston, who have Peterborough chasing them for the final playoff spot, and they came out flying in the opening twenty minutes. The Fronts outshot Sudbury 23-6 in the first, and scored the only goal of the frame off of the stick of Sam Povorozniouk, his 9th of the year. Kingston added to their lead early in the second, as Ryan Kujawinski’s 14th of the season came less than three minutes into the period. The Fronts then began to protect the lead, and the Wolves looked to turn up the pressure to get back into the game. While Kingston owned the first half of the game, Sudbury was much better over the second half, but couldn’t cut into the Fronts lead until the final minute of the third, when a Jacob Harris powerplay goal spoiled Mike Morrison’s shutout bid, but Kingston would seal the deal with an empty net goal from Henri Ikonen moments later.
Despite the late setback, Morrison had an impressive performance, picking up the game’s first star with a 33-save performance. His counterpart in the Sudbury net, Franky Palazzese was named star number two after stopping 38 of 40 shots, while Kingston’s Kujawinski was star number three.
After a busy Friday night with eight games, there are eight more on the schedule for Saturday, and we’ll have the recaps of all eight games tomorrow. Until then, you can regularly find my ramblings about the Ontario Hockey League, as well as the Toronto Maple Leafs, on Twitter @N24Nicholson.
Anthony Nicholson is the Sports Editor for Toronto News 24 covering the Toronto Maple Leafs and regular contributor to OHLWriters.com. Contact Anthony anytime for a conversation by joining him on Twitter, or send mail to firstname.lastname@example.org.
Photo: Andrew D’Agostini helped guide his Peterborough Petes to victory on Thursday night, helping them stay in the Eastern Conference playoff race with a 47 save performance against the Brampton Battalion. (Photo Courtesy: Terry Wilson/OHLImages)