Kitchener Rangers 4 @ Erie Otters 2
The Erie Otters looked to make it two in a row against some of the top teams in the Western Conference, coming off of a big win at home to London on Friday, but the Kitchener Rangers would have other plans, as they took the play to the Otters for much of the night, playing a near-flawless road game. Hayden Hodgson opened the scoring, putting Erie ahead five minutes in, but Ben Thomson would pull the Rangers before the end of the first. After outshooting the Otters 18-10 in the opening twenty, Kitchener really poured it on in the middle frame, scoring twice while outshooting Erie 23-4. Josh Leivo and Brent Pedersen were responsible for giving the Rangers a 3-1 lead heading to the final frame, but Connor Brown’s goal with six minutes remaining pulled the Otters within one, making for an exciting finish. Matt Puempel would find the empty net with a minute remaining, sealing a 4-2 win for Kitchener, who did not take a penalty in the contest.
Thomson would be named the game’s first star, while Otters goalkeeper Oscar Dansk was named star number two, making 44 saves in a losing cause. Rangers defenseman Ryan Murphy would round out the three star selections.
Sudbury Wolves 5 @ Belleville Bulls 7
High scoring games seemed to be the theme of the night on Saturday night, and the game in Belleville between the Bulls and Sudbury Wolves would be no exception, with twelve goals scored between the two teams. The Wolves got out in front in the opening period on goals by Ray Huether and Nathan Pancel, giving them a two goal cushion after twenty minutes, but an early second period goal by Jordan Subban cut Sudbury’s lead in half. By the midway point of the game, however, the Wolves had pumped in two more goals, as Mathew Campagna and Dominik Kahun ended the night for Bulls goaltender Malcolm Subban.
Charlie Graham would replace Subban in goal, and Belleville would respond to the change, rallying to change momentum before the end of the second. Brendan Gaunce would start the comeback for the Bulls, followed by the second of the game for Jordan Subban. 26 seconds after Subban’s goal, Daniil Zharkov would tie the game, and 48 seconds after that goal, Belleville took their first lead of the contest on Gaunce’s second of the night.
The Bulls took a 5-4 lead into period three, where Jordan Subban completed the hat-trick with a powerplay marker midway through the period. Sudbury cut the lead to one when Matt Schmaltz scored with 88 seconds remaining, but Brendan Gaunce would complete his own hat-trick, scoring into an empty cage to seal the Belleville victory.
Bulls rearguard Jordan Subban was named the first star, and teammate Gaunce named star number two, after both posted three goal, four point nights, while Zharkov was chosen as star number three with a goal and an assist.
Guelph Storm 4 @ Plymouth Whalers 7
Saturday’s contest between the Guelph Storm and Plymouth Whalers was another game that was unfriendly to the goalkeepers, as neither starter would see the end of this contest. Three first period goals by the Storm would end the night for Whalers starter Matt Mahalak, as Justin Auger, Hunter Garlent, and Robby Fabbri scored for Guelph. In the second Plymouth came out with new legs, and were rewarded with five goals from five different goal scorers, driving Garret Sparks from the Storm net. Sebastian Uvira, Matt Mistele, Vincent Trocheck, Rickard Rakell, and Stefan Noesen all found the back of the net in the middle stanza, turning a three-goal deficit for Plymouth after one into a two-goal lead heading to the third.
Todd Bertuzzi would get the Storm back within one with a powerplay goal with five minutes remaining, but the Whalers put the victory on ice with a pair of late goals from Mistele, as he would complete the hat-trick with an empty net goal.
Even with the hat-trick, Mistele couldn’t wrap up the first-star selection, as that went to his teammate Rakell, who registered a goal and two assists. Mistele would be the game’s second star, while Guelph’s Bertuzzi would be named star number three, with a goal and an assist.
Oshawa Generals 2 @ Sarnia Sting 4
In a game that was relatively low-scoring, the Sarnia Sting played host to the Oshawa Generals in a tightly-contested affair, with both teams needing points to keep pace in their respective Conferences. It would be the Generals who opened the scoring, as rookie Bradley Latour scored his ninth of the season just past the midpoint of the first, but Reid Boucher’s 51st goal of the season, 19th by way of the powerplay, brought the Sting even after twenty minutes.
In the second, Sarnia took their first lead of the game on another powerplay, when Alex Basso hammered a low blast from the point that beat Oshawa goaltender Daniel Altshuller. The lead would be short-lived, as Scott Laughton would score on a penalty shot less than a minute later, bringing the Generals even. Bryan Moore put the Sting back out in front late in the second, a goal assisted by former Generals defender Tyler Hore, which would also turn out to be the winning goal. Nick Latta added an insurance marker for Sarnia with five minutes remaining in period three, putting an exclamation point on another Sting victory.
Sting netminder J.P. Anderson was named the game’s first star, as Sarnia was badly outplayed and outshot by Oshawa by a count of 42-19. With the winning goal, Bryan Moore was chosen as star number two, while the Generals’ Scott Laughton was third star.
Kingston Frontenacs 7 @ Sault Ste. Marie Greyhounds 10
Without a doubt, the wildest game of the night was between the Kingston Frontenacs and Sault Ste. Marie Greyhounds, and if you only looked at the final score, you could only assume that the goaltenders for both clubs were locked in a broom closet at the Essar Centre before the game began. The goal scoring started early, as Ryan Kujawinski got things started for the Fronts just twenty seconds into the game. Spencer Watson added to the Kingston lead halfway through the opening period, but that goal seemed to wake the Hounds up, as the Soo erupted for four goals over the final nine minutes of the first. Brandon Alderson scored twice in the period for the Greyhounds, joined on the scoresheet by defenders Darnell Nurse and Colin Miller. The first period also contained an ugly spear by Kingston’s Darcy Greenaway, who will likely be hearing from the OHL offices this week. Henri Ikonen scored with one second remaining in the first, sending his Fronts to the dressing room trailing 4-3.
Early in the second, David Broll restored the two-goal lead for Sault Ste. Marie, but Kingston struck for the next three to retake the lead. Ikonen’s second of the game got them going, followed by Cody Alcock and Ryan Hanes. Nick Cousins got the Hounds back to even with four minutes left in the period, which was plenty of time for the teams to exchange goals once again before the intermission. Kingston’s Sam Povorozniouk and the Greyhounds’ Cousins did just that, sending the teams to the dressing rooms tied at 7-7.
Both teams tightened up their defence in the final frame, hesitant to make the mistake that might cost their club the points. Michael Schumacher put Sault Ste. Marie ahead to stay with eight minutes remaining, and Andrew Fritsch gave the Hounds a big insurance goal a minute later. Sergey Tolchinsky put the Greyhounds into double-digits with five minutes remaining, giving them more than enough to hold off a charge by the Fronts.
The Soo’s Alderson would be named the first star of the game with two goals and two assists, while his teammate Nick Cousins would be star number two, scoring twice as part of a five-point game. The third star of the night went to Kingston’s Ikonen, who also scored a pair and added a helper.
Windsor Spitfires 4 @ Saginaw Spirit 7
In a game with huge playoff implications in the Western Conference, the ninth-place Windsor Spitfires took on the eighth-place Saginaw Spirit, and as the game got away from the Spitfires, the game would turn ugly. The game started mildly enough, as the Spirit took an early lead when Justin Kea scored six minutes in. Halfway through the first, Alex Aleardi would strike on the powerplay, bringing Windsor even, but a pair of goals by Garret Ross, his 35th and 36th of the year, put Saginaw ahead 3-1 after 20 minutes.
In the second, Eric Locke’s 35th of the year extended the Spirit lead to three goals, but Trevor Murphy scored at the nine minute mark to bring Windsor back within two. Locke scored his second of the game with a minute remaining in the second period, a devastating goal for the Spits that had them trailing by three heading to the third, where the game began to unravel.
Ben Johnson got an early third period goal for Windsor, but Locke’s hat-trick goal five minutes into the third gave Saginaw a 6-3 lead, causing players to look for an outlet for their frustrations. After Justin Kea’s 2nd of the game made it 7-3, Windsor’s Ryan Verbeek lost his cool and attacked Zach Bratina, earning himself an early shower and likely call from the league offices. Emerson Clark scored a late goal for the Spitfires to make the scoreline look slightly better, but draft-eligible rearguard Nick Ebert picked up a spearing penalty at the final horn. If video of that offence makes it to the league offices, Ebert may have played his final game for Windsor this season.
Locke received the first star after his three goal, five point night, while Spirit goaltender Jake Paterson somehow got named second star, despite giving up four goals and looking very average. Garret Ross’s five point night, with two goals, deserved second star selection, but he would settle for star number three, as Saginaw swept the three star selections.
Mississauga Steelheads 0 @ Barrie Colts 3
The Mississauga Steelheads find themselves in danger of failing to secure a playoff spot, as they continue to struggle down the stretch. Having to go into Barrie to take on the Eastern Conference leading Colts would be no easy task Saturday, but the lack of offense continues to plague Mississauga. Zach Hall would score the only goal in the opening period, taking a feed from Mark Scheifele and burying it past Tyson Teichmann to give Barrie a lead. Late in period two, the Colts added to their lead on a powerplay, as Andreas Athanasiou struck for his 24th of the season. A two-goal lead would be plenty for Barrie, led in goal by Mathias Niederberger, who was solid when called upon, keeping the Steelheads off the scoreboard. Mitchell Theoret would ice the game for the Colts with an empty net goal.
Niederberger earned his second shutout of the season as well as first star with a 28-save performance, while Scheifele would pick up the second star with a pair of assists. Theoret, with a goal and an assist, was the game’s third star.
Niagara Icedogs 2 @ Owen Sound Attack 3
The Niagara Icedogs and Owen Sound Attack hooked up Saturday night, in the only one-goal game of the eight on the OHL schedule. Gilbert Gabor got things started for the home side eight minutes in, finishing a set-up from Dan Catenacci to give Owen Sound a 1-0 lead after twenty minutes. That score would last until the final five minutes of period two, when Brendan Perlini pulled Niagara even. One minute later, the Attack regained their lead on a goal by Catenacci, but the lead would be short-lived, as Niagara tied the game for a second time with a powerplay goal by Steven Shipley with less than two minutes remaining in the second.
Owen Sound would take over the puck-possession game in period three, and were finally rewarded when Cody Ceci struck on the powerplay with just over five minutes remaining. The Attack would make that goal stand up as the difference, hanging on to defeat Niagara 3-2.
With a goal and an assist, Owen Sound’s Catenacci was chosen as the first star, while the Icedogs’ Ryan Strome was star number two with a pair of helpers. Ceci rounded out the three star selections after scoring the winning goal.
With eight games on the schedule on both Friday and Saturday this week, Sunday seems quiet in comparison, with just two matinee games taking place. Check back Sunday evening to keep up to date on everything happening around the OHL. 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: Mathias Niederberger posted his second shutout of the season on Saturday night, helping his Barrie Colts down the Mississauga Steelheads 3-0. (Photo Courtesy: Terry Wilson/OHLImages)