By: Bryan Thiel
Kitchener Rangers @ Windsor Spitfires
Brendan Lemieux had been active for all of 19 minutes this series. 18:56 into the first period of Game 1, Lemieux was hit with a questionable slew footing call, landing him a two game suspension. The Jets’ prospect watched his team fall behind 3-0 in the series, but was rightfully fired up as he returned to the lineup for Game 4.
Things didn’t start out quite the way Lemieux had hoped however, as just over a minute in Adam Mascherin had the visiting Rangers out to a 1-0 lead, and Mascherin had made it 2-0 by the first intermission. While the first belonged to Mascherin, the second belonged to Lemieux. The veteran forward scored a natural hat-trick, all off of one-timers, all in the second period, and all on the power play to give the Spits a 3-2 lead. Bradley Latour would score his second of the series 8:29 into the third to put the Rangers down by two, but Kitchener wasn’t done. David Miller and Gustaf Franzen scored just under two minutes apart to tie things at four and send them to overtime for the third time this series. This time, however, it was the Spitfires coming out on top as Latour scored his second of the game, sending the series back to Kitchener and giving Windsor their first win, 5-4. Michael DiPietro wasn’t too busy in this one, making just 17 saves, while Dawson Carty was busy for Kitchener, making 30 stops. Connor Hall and Mascherin both ended up with multiple points for the Rangers, while Latour and Lemieux had three-points nights and Logan Brown added four assists, as the Spits went an astounding 4-for-5 on the power play.
Kitchener leads series 3-1
Next Game: Friday, April 1st @Kitchener
Niagara IceDogs @ Ottawa 67’s
In every game so far this series, the winning team had scored at least four goals. That changed Wednesday night, as both Alex Nedeljkovic and Leo Lazarev stood on their heads. Nedeljkovic finished with seven saves in the first, while Lazarev had 12, as Pavel Janys back-handed home a Josh Ho-Sang feed with just 56 seconds left to make it 1-0. The teams skated through a scoreless second (Ottawa out-shot Niagara 12-5), and it wasn’t until a third period power play that we’d see our next goal. After Ho-Sang took a hooking penalty at 15:30, Nathan Todd continued his red-hot play, scoring his fourth of the series and sending things to overtime. Overtime wouldn’t last very long however, as Jordan Maletta converted with a beautiful move on a breakaway pass from Vince Dunn to send Niagara home with a 2-1 win and a 3-1 series lead. Nedeljkovic made 30 saves in the win, while Lazarev had 28 saves in a losing effort. Todd has been a force for the 67’s in these playoffs with nine points in four games, while Janys has scored in each game for the IceDogs and Ho-Sang has seven assists in the series.
Niagara leads series 3-1
Next Game: Friday, April 1st @Niagara
London Knights @ Owen Sound Attack
It doesn’t matter what the Knights do, the Attack seem to find a way to stick with them whether it’s a tight game, or a high-scoring one like last night. Things started out well for the Attack, as Petrus Palmu got them out to a 1-0 lead, and after Robert Thomas tied it up, Josh Sterk got the lead back for the Attack. That was all in the first, and in the second the Knights took over. Matt Tkachuk and Cliff Pu put the Knights up 3-2, but Bryson Cianfrone tied it up again. After that, it was all Knights: Mitch Marner scored his fourth of the series, while Tkachuk added a pair for the hat-trick, and Cliff Pu added his second (shorthanded). Kevin Hancock and Nick Suzuki would pull Owen Sound within two, but Tkachuk’s fourth of the game into an empty net put a bow on an 8-5 win. Tkachuk added an assist for a four-point night, Marner had a goal and four assists, and Christian Dvorak added three assists. Ethan Szypula chipped in with three assists for Owen Sound, while Palmu finished with three points and Cianfrone had two points.
London leads series 3-1
Next Game: Friday, April 1st @London
Keep Your Eye On…
Max Jones’ status. Jones laid a vicious hit on Justin Brack during the second period of last night’s game and it rightfully ended his night. Jones has had a few instances of this in his first OHL season, and now it’s up to the OHL when his next playoff game is.
Who starts for the Barrie Colts. Word is that it was a bruised tailbone that led to MacKenzie Blackwood’s exit Tuesday night in Mississauga. He skated yesterday and will be a game-time decision.
Travis Konecny may be good to go for Game 5. He made a trip to Philadelphia and got clearance to return to the Sting. He’ll miss Game 4 but could return for Game 5.
First Star: Matthew Tkachuk, London Knights: 4 Goals, 1 Assist, 1 GWG, 2 PPG
Second Star: Brendan Lemieux, Windsor Spitfires: 3 Goals, 3 PPG, 7 shots
Third Star: Alex Nedeljkovic, Niagara IceDogs: 30/31 saves, OT win
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.