By Bryan Thiel:
Niagara IceDogs @ Ottawa 67’s
The Ottawa 67’s forced their way back into their quarterfinal series with the Niagara IceDogs, coming out with a 4-2 win in Game 3 in front of their home fans. Leo Lazarev was sharp all afternoon for the 67’s, but a stellar first period was what kept the home side in front. The IceDogs outshot the 67’s 15-5 in the first, but Lazarev kept them off the board, while Artur Tyanulin (1:06 in) and Nathan Todd capitalized on two of Ottawa’s five shots. Todd kept the pedal down in the second when he scored his third of the series 1:40 in, before Pavel Jenys’ third of the series broke Lazarev’s shutout bid. Stepan Falkovsky scored 30 second later though, and a Vince Dunn power play goal early in the third was as close as Niagara would get. Todd and Tyanulin dominated the afternoon, as both finished with three points. Lazarev ended up making 26 saves for the game, while Alex Nedeljkovic had a rough day, making just 12 saves. While the 67’s won the game, there was a big loss however, as Nevin Guy left the game during the first and was seen during the second intermission with his arm in a sling. It was revealed afterwards that his playoffs are over.
Niagara leads series 2-1
Next Game: Wednesday @Ottawa
London Knights @ Owen Sound Attack
After the first two games in London, some were asking where Mitch Marner was. It appears that he’s been found. For those dreading that Game 3 would be a repeat of Game 2 for the Knights, it nearly was. Damir Sharipzyanov broke a scoreless tie with two minutes to go in the first period on the Attack’s third power play of the game (just after a 5-on-3 ended). Early in the second the Knights tied things up on a power play of their own as Matthew Tkachuk converted on his first of the series…and then Marner struck. A minute after Aaron Berisha made it 2-1, Marner made it 3-1, and after Nick Suzuki failed to convert a penalty shot late in the second, Marner nabbed his second of the game 10 seconds into the third. After that the Knights would cruise, as Tkachuk added his second for a 5-1 win. This game was a nightmare for Tyler Parsons and Michael McNiven from the start, as Owen Sound outshot London 22-15 in the first, London came back with 15 shots in the second to Owen Sound’s 4, and they were 13-11 Attack in the third. After Marner and Tkachuk were held to just one goal combined in the first two games, the two combined for 4 goals and 1 assist in Game 3, taking home first and second star.
London leads series 2-1
Next Game: Wednesday @Owen Sound
Kitchener Rangers @ Windsor Spitfires
No series has changed as much over the course of three games as the Rangers and Spitfires. The first two games in Kitchener were offensive showcases; the Rangers scored 12 goals over that span, while the Spitfires weren’t too far behind with 9, and chased Luke Opilka from the net in favour of Dawson Carty. Add in the fact that Brendan Lemieux was serving the second of a two-game suspension for a slew foot that he picked up in the opener of this series, and there was plenty to keep fans interested in Game 3. Well you can add one more twist, as rookie goalie Michael DiPietro replaced Mario Culina between the pipes for Game 3, meaning all four goalies have started a game before we’re even through four games. The opening frame of this one took a much quieter tone, as the teams traded a handful of scoring chances before Jeremy Bracco was able to poke home a loose puck with just 35 seconds left. From there it was DiPietro and Carty stealing the show, going save-for-save through a scoreless second period, as the closest anyone came to scoring was when Carty knocked a puck away from the goal-line with his pad (prompting a review). DiPietro’s sharp play carried over into the third, where he was able to buy the Spits enough time to tie it up at 9:25 on the power play thanks to Aaron Luchuk. But just as it looked like we may be heading to overtime for the second time in three games, Brandon Robinson one-timed his fifth of the series home with 1:26 to go to seal a 2-1 Kitchener win. Outside of the two goals DiPietro was spectacular in his OHL playoff debut, stopping 28/30 shots, while Luchuk has a point in all three games (2 goals, 1 assist). Bracco and Ryan MacInnis were in on both goals for the Rangers, coming away with two-point nights, while Brandon Robinson now has 7 points (5G/2A) in three games, and two game-winning goals. Lemieux is due back for Game 4, a boost that the Spits desperately need.
Kitchener leads series 3-0
Next Game: Wednesday @Windsor
Mississauga Steelheads @ Barrie Colts
Maybe Alex Nylander isn’t 100%. Maybe he doesn’t need to be. After Game 1 between the Colts and Steelheads was pushed back to Saturday, it gave Nylander a little extra time to get healthy…and while it took two periods to get his feet under him, he sure looked comfortable come the third. The Colts had a quick start, getting a goal from Justin Scott 4:21 in to the game, and it could have been worse if it wasn’t for Jack Flinn making 15 saves in the first period. Another 16 shots in the second led to two more goals for the Colts from Rasmus Andersson (on the power play) and Anthony Stefano (shorthanded), as they outshot the Steelheads 32-20 through two periods. Then…cue the comeback. Everett Clark’s first-career playoff goal got things started at the 7:16 mark, and the next 10 minutes was all Mississauga. Nylander picked up a pair, Mason Marchment gave the Steelheads the lead, and Daniel Muzito-Bagenda provided the insurance before Nylander capped off the hat-trick with an empty netter for the 6-5 win. For Nylander, the three goals were his first since February 15th as he rounded out a 4-point night, as ten different Steelheads recorded a point. Flinn ended up making 36 saves for the win.
Series tied 1-1
Next Game: Tuesday @Mississauga
“It’s funny how the hockey gods work,” Brown said. “You play your hearts out for two games, you don’t get rewarded, then you come home and you play terrible like we did in the first period — and we end up winning the game.” – Ottawa Citizen
“We’re a team used to scoring five goals a game, or more, and for us not to do that (every time out) is kind of discouraging,” Berisha said, “but it didn’t really matter. We still put up five in the end and we’re still excited about that.” – London Free Press
“Pressure is really what you make of it,” he said. “If you let it get to you, you can use it as an excuse or a crutch. I think you have to take advantage of the opportunities that are put in front of you, because not a lot of people have them.” – The Record
First Star: Alex Nylander, Mississauga Steelheads: 3 Goals, 1 Assist, +4, 9 shots
Second Star: Mitch Marner, London Knights: 2 Goals, 1 Assist, +3
Third Star: Nathan Todd, Ottawa 67’s: 2 Goals, 1 Assist, GWG, +4