After two nights without action in the Ontario Hockey League, play resumed on Wednesday with six games.
Niagara Icedogs 6 @ Erie Otters 3
A big opening period for the Niagara Icedogs helped them snap a two-game losing streak in Erie, as goals by Ryan Strome, Shayne Rover, and Trevor Petersen had the Dogs up 3-0 after 20 minutes. The Otters looked to make it interesting again early in period two, as J.P. Labardo and Nick Betz scored goals 72 seconds apart to get their team back within one goal. 3-2 would be as close as Erie would get, as Niagara replied with three more goals before the end of the second period. Anthony DiFruscia, Aaron Haydon, and Strome’s second of the night extended the Icedogs lead to four goals, and while Connor McDavid would give the home crowd another goal to cheer for in the third period, Niagara would skate to a 6-3 win.
Strome was named the first star of the game with an assist to go with his two goals, while Icedogs defender Rover earned the second star with a three-point night, including a goal. Erie’s Labardo was third star, with a goal and an assist.
Barrie Colts 10 @ Ottawa 67s 1
The Barrie Colts become the first team to clinch a playoff spot in the OHL’s Eastern Conference in convincing fashion, dismantling the 67’s Wednesday night in Ottawa. After Erik Bradford and Mark Scheifele gave the Colts a 2-0 lead before the game was six minutes old, Brett Gustavsen got Ottawa back within one with a powerplay goal midway through the opening period. Brendan Lemieux restored Barrie’s two-goal lead before the end of the first, and put the game away with a five-goal outburst in the middle stanza. Scheifele scored two more goals in the second to earn the hat-trick, joining Zach Hall, Mitchell Theoret, and Andreas Athanasiou as goal-scorers in the middle frame. Hall and Bradford would each add their second goals of the game in the third, as the Colts cruised past the 67s 10-1.
Mark Scheifele was named the game’s first star with a three-goal, six-point performance, while Bradford and Hall would earn the second and third stars, respectively, each of whom scored two goals and two assists. Mathias Niederberger made 28 saves in the Colts victory.
Guelph Storm 2 @ Owen Sound 0
Entering action Wednesday night five points behind the Owen Sound Attack, the Guelph Storm cut into that deficit with an impressive performance, especially in the opening frame, when they really took the game to the hometown Attack. Outshooting Owen Sound 14-5 in the opening twenty, the Storm got a goal from Patrick Watling to take a 1-0 lead to the intermission. In period two, Guelph would double their lead on a powerplay goal by Hunter Garlent.
The two goals by Guelph would be more than enough for Storm netminder Garret Sparks to protect, as he made 28 saves to earn his seventh shutout of the season and twelfth of his OHL career, picking up first star honours for his effort. Owen Sound goaltender Jordan Binnington was named the game’s second star, making 38 saves in a losing cause, while Watling, with the game-winning goal, was the third star.
Kingston Frontenacs 1 @ Belleville Bulls 4
The Belleville Bulls won their third straight game as they keep pace with the Barrie Colts in the race for top spot in the Eastern Conference. The East Division leaders came into action Wednesday night with a two point lead on the Oshawa Generals for first place in the division, set to battle with the Frontenacs, who are fighting to hold off Peterborough in the race for the final playoff spot. After a feisty first period finished without scoring, the second period saw plenty of action. Kingston’s Henri Ikonen struck for a powerplay marker two minutes in, beginning an intense period that saw a little of everything, including a pair of fights. Tyler Graovac would score a pair of goals in the final four minutes of the period, giving the Bulls a 2-1 lead after 40 minutes. In the third, Belleville kept coming, as Alan Quine scored early to extend the lead to a pair.
Graovac would complete the hat-trick, scoring his 30th goal of the season with five minutes remaining to put an exclamation point on another Bulls victory, and was named the first star of the game. Joseph Cramarossa added two assists to earn the second star of the game, while Quine’s 15th goal of the season earned third star selection. Malcolm Subban stopped 33 of 34 Kingston shots for his 22nd win of the season.
Sarnia Sting 0 @ Sault Ste. Marie Greyhounds 8
The Sault Ste. Marie Greyhounds continued their charge up the Western Conference standings under new head coach Sheldon Keefe, and were absolutely dominant on home ice Wednesday night. Andrew Fritsch would have a night to remember, beginning with a pair of powerplay goals early in the first that set the tone for the rest of the evening. David Broll added a third Hounds goal before the end of the first, and the Soo struck for three more goals in the middle period. Nick Halagian scored twice 53 seconds apart to make it a five-goal game, and Fritsch completed his hat-trick with his 20th of the season just 1:15 later. In the third, Fritsch bulged the twine yet again, his fourth of the game, before picking up an assist on the Greyhounds eighth and final goal, scored by Tyler Gaudet.
The four-goal, five-point night by Fritsch made him an easy choice as the first star, and Halagian’s two goals made him the second star. The Greyhounds swept the stars, rounding out the selections with Nick Cousins, who had four assists. Matt Murray stopped all 25 shots the Sarnia Sting sent his way, posting his first shutout of the season, and second of his OHL career.
Plymouth Whalers 5 @ Saginaw Spirit 1
The Plymouth Whalers and Saginaw Spirit hooked up in a key West Division battle, both teams riding two-game winning streaks coming into action on Wednesday. The game was marked as the return of Vincent Trocheck to Saginaw, playing his 14th game with Plymouth after spending three and a half seasons with the Spirit before being dealt to Plymouth at the trade deadline, and Vince didn’t disappoint, scoring twice in the opening period to reach forty goals on the season. The Whalers outshot Saginaw 20-5 in the opening twenty, a sign of things to come in the contest. Plymouth continued to dominate the shotclock in the second, and got goals from Matthew Mistele and Sebastian Uvira to extend the lead to 4-0 after 40 minutes. In period three, the Spirit finally gave their fans something to cheer about, as Garret Ross put Saginaw on the board, but Uvira’s second of the game less than two minutes later sealed the deal for the Whalers.
Uvira was the first star of the contest, adding an assist to his two goals, while Trocheck picked up second star in his return to Saginaw. Washington Capitals draft pick Tom Wilson was the game’s third star, picking up helpers on both of Trocheck’s markers. Matt Mahalak stopped 21 shots to earn his 20th win of the season.
There’s only one game on the schedule for Thursday, as the Brampton Battalion travel to play the Peterborough Petes. I’ll have the recap Thursday night, in the meantime, 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 Fritsch of the Sault Ste. Marie Greyhounds scored four goals and five points in a convincing victory over the Sarnia Sting on Wednesday night. (Photo Courtesy: Terry Wilson/OHLImages)