By: Bryan Thiel
There was a little bit of everything on the first night of the Ontario Hockey League playoffs, including a postponement.
7. Mississauga Steelheads @ 2. Barrie Colts
Weather saved the Steelheads a game without their top scorer on Thursday. Alex Nylander battled a shoulder injury towards the end of the regular season, and on the opening night of the OHL playoffs he wasn’t ready to go. Thanks to a power outage brought about by the nasty Ontario weather, Game 1 between the Colts and Steelheads was called off. Despite the best efforts of both sides to make the game happen, things were pushed back and the series will now open on Saturday with Game 2 on Monday.
5. Ottawa 67’s @ 4. Niagara IceDogs
The Ottawa 67’s came in to the playoffs red hot, but the IceDogs were able to keep them at arms length to take a 1-0 series lead with a 5-4 win. In a game that Ottawa never led, they were never really out of it either, as they were either down by a goal or tied with Niagara until the IceDogs went up 4-3 midway through the second, and made it 5-3 early in the third. Even then, Jeremiah Addison scored with under four minutes to go to make it a one-goal game, but it was just too much for Ottawa to overcome. William Lochead’s second-career OHL goal (first in the playoffs) opened things up for Niagara who got the game-winning goal and an assist out of Vince Dunn, and goals out of Pavel Jenys, Anthony DiFruscia, and Graham Knott. Josh Ho-Sang stole first star honours with three assists while Alex Nedeljkovic made 19 saves for the win. Leo Lazarev took the loss for the 67’s, while Travis Barron (1G/1A), Todd Nathan (1G/2A), and Dante Salituro all added goals.IceDogs lead series 1-0
5. Windsor Spitfires @ 4. Kitchener RangersThis game was bananas, and everything that everyone hoped it would be. For beginners, the Spitfires chased Luke Opilka from the Kitchener net and took the air out of the Aud with three goals in the first 9:36, which included a beauty by Christian Fischer. Then, suddenly, the Rangers got themselves back in it. Brandon Robinson and Ryan MacInnis cut it to 3-2 before Brendan Lemieux got called for slew footing, sending the Rangers to a five-minute power play. Kitchener scored once on the man advantage to tie and once after it was done to go up 4-3, but we weren’t done there. Windsor tied it at four and the teams traded third period goals to send it to overtime tied at five. Then, early in overtime, OA Brandon Robinson snapped home the game-winner off of a faceoff to send the fans home happy with a 6-5 Rangers win. Mario Culina made 32 saves for the Spitfires in a losing effort, while Dawson Carty came in and steadied the Rangers, stopping 29 of 31. Four different Rangers scored goals, as Jeremy Bracco added three assists (all on the Rangers’ first three goals) and Miles Liberati added two, while Bradley Latour was the only Spitfire with multiple points (1G/1A).Rangers lead series 1-0
Keep an eye on…Brendan Lemieux’s status for the next couple games bears watching. The actual infraction doesn’t look as egregious as the five-minute, suspension-inducing slew foot call makes it sound, but we won’t know until after the league reviews it.
It will also be interesting to see what the Rangers and Spitfires do between the pipes for Game 2. Do they go with the status quo and give Opilka and Culina second chances? Did Dawson Carty do enough to earn himself a start in Game 2, or did he just prove why it’s important to have depth between the pipes? Is there a chance we see Michael DiPietro in Kitchener on Saturday night?
Three Stars of the Night:
First Star: Brandon Robinson, Kitchener Rangers: 2 Goals, 1 GWG, 1 Assist
Second Star: Josh Ho-Sang, Niagara IceDogs: 3 Assists, 2 PP assists, assisted on GWG
Third Star: Dawson Carty, Kitchener Rangers: 29/31 saves in relief of Luke Opilka
Bryan Thiel is a freelance broadcaster who has covered the OHL from rink-side and the broadcast booth. He has also helped produce OHL features for the past four seasons. You can follow him on Twitter @BryanThiel_88.