By: Bryan Thiel
London Knights @ Owen Sound Attack
The Attack battled the Knights to the bitter end in the first round, but ultimately London’s offence won out. Matt Tkachuk’s seventh of the first round got things started in the first, before rookie Nick Suzuki tied it up. The Knights were able to escape the first with a lead, when Christian Dvorak put home his second with just two seconds to go in the opening frame.Victor Mete added some insurance in the second with his first of the series, before Clfif Pu’s 5th provided the insurance early in the third. Josh Sterk brought the Attack closer, but the OA’s fourth wasn’t enough as Tkachuk sealed it with his eighth into an empty net for a 5-2 win. Tkachuk finished the afternoon with four points, as Tyler Parsons made 31 saves for the win, propelling the Knights into round two. As they await their opponent though, one troubling thing remains for London: Penalty trouble. The Knights are tied with the Barrie Colts for the second-most times shorthanded in the playoffs (32), but have given up a playoff-worst 11 power play goals. It nearly cost them against the Attack, and with potential matchups against two high-powered offenses, it’s something that needs to get cleaned up.
London wins series 4-1
Barrie Colts @ Mississauga Steelheads
This continues to be one of the most interesting series of the first round, because it’s almost impossible to get a read on either team. After the Steelheads were shutout in Barrie by the Colts in game five, they stormed right back to force a game seven with a 7-0 win. David Ovsjannikov lasted all of six minutes and three shots in this one, as Brendan Harrogate, Sean Day, and Michael McLeod all scored in the early stages for the 3-0 lead. Mason Marchment’s second of the series was the lone goal of the second period, before Jared Walsh, Daniel Muzito-Bagenda, and Owen Tippett capped off the win. Jack Flinn made 24 saves for the shutout, while seven Steelheads finished with two points, including all of the goal scorers except Harrogate. MacKenzie Blackwood made 28 saves in relief of Ovsjannikov in his return from a lower body injury.
Series tied 3-3
Next Game: Tuesday, April 5th @Barrie
North Bay Battalion @ Peterborough Petes
This is another series that has been all over the place, and game six was a perfect example of that. After a scoreless first period, Michael Amadio made it look like North Bay was off to the second round with a natural hat-trick in just over seven minutes. But then it was the Petes’ turn. Greg Betzold and Hunter Garlent cut it to a one-goal lead, before Jonathan Ang, Brandon Prophet, and Betzold put the Petes in front with seven minutes to go. Maurizio Colella tried twice to draw the Battalion closer, but the first time Eric Cornel restored the lead, and the second time Brandon Prophet scored into an empty net to send things back to North Bay tied at three games apiece with the 7-5 win. Amadio and Colella both finished with three points for the night, while Ang powered the Petes with four points, and four other Petes finished with multiple points. Oddly enough, for the second time in this series, a hat-trick wasn’t enough to get North Bay the win as they’re now 0-2 when someone scores three in this series.
Series tied 3-3
Next Game: Tuesday, April 5th @North Bay
Sarnia Sting @ Sault Ste. Marie Greyhounds
The comeback bid for the Sting continues, as they’ve climbed out of their 3-1 series hole to force a game seven. Early in the first, Sting fans may have been clenching their teeth a bit as Boris Katchouk put them in an early 1-0 hole with his third. But the Travis Konecny-less Sting got their offence in gear as Jakob Chychrun tied it in the first and Jordan Kyrou gave them the lead in the second. In the third, two Pavel Zacha goals bookended Chychrun’s second, as the Sting forced things back to Sarnia with a 5-1 win. Chychrun finished with four points, while Zacha had three and Kyrou and a pair. The Sting were also able to get 28 saves out of Charlie Graham, as they will play a seven-game series for the first time since 1999/2000.
Series tied 3-3
Next Game: Tuesday, April 5th @Sarnia
“We were just kind of all over on the ice today,” Labanc said. “We could’ve been a bit better defensively, but we also didn’t stay disciplined as well.” – Barrie Examiner
“I read a book in Grade 13 called A Tale of Two Cities,” said North Bay coach/GM Stan Butler. “I’d call that the Tale of Two Games. The first half of the game we played the right way. That’s been our problem all year is when we get leads we sometimes forget how we got them. We don’t want to play a run-and-gun game with them as we saw tonight.” – Peterborough Examiner
“Owen Sound made us have to sharpen our senses,” London assistant coach Dylan Hunter said. “It was touch-and-go all series.” – London Free Press
1. Jonathan Ang, Peterborough Petes: 1 goals, 3 assists, +2, 1 shorthanded goal
2. Jakob Chychrun, Sarnia Sting: 2 goals, 2 assists, +2, 2 power play points
3. Jack Flinn, Mississauga Steelheads: 24/24 saves, shutout, win