By: Bryan Thiel
Niagara IceDogs @ Kingston Frontenacs
In the first round, both the IceDogs and Frontenacs dominated their opponents offensively, keeping both series to just five games. Early on, it was the IceDogs that quieted the Frontenacs, out-shooting them 16-4 in the first period. Of all those shots though, Vince Dunn was the only IceDog to score, throwing a shot on net from the point that found a way through Jeremy Helvig. After Helvig withstood that first-period barrage, it was Alex Nedeljkovic’s turn in the second period, but the veteran turned aside all 11 shots he faced (and the crossbar stopped one too). Helvig was slightly less busy facing nine shots, but yet again the IceDogs put one by him, as Anthony DiFruscia scored just seven minutes into the middle frame. In the third, Kingston finally solved Nedeljkovic as Lawson Crouse slid his fifth of the playoffs home on the power play, but that’s as close as the Fronts would get. Aaron Haydon would get the empty-netter, as Nedeljkovic would make 31 saves for the 3-1, game one win. The IceDogs got the production from the rest of the roster they were looking for, as Dunn finished with two points, DiFruscia scored his second of the playoffs, and Haydon scored his first.
IceDogs lead series 1-0
North Bay Battalion @ Barrie Colts
After two first round series that went seven games, the Battalion and Colts could very well go seven in this head-to-head matchup. While the Colts had an up-and-down opening round, they were all up in game one, and so was Andrew Mangiapane. The 51-goal man from the regular season opened the scoring late on a power play midway through the first, and then two minutes later put a beautiful move on Jake Smith as he finished off a give-and-go for an early 2-0 lead. The Colts weren’t done there, as two minutes after that Josh Carrick gave them an early 3-0 lead. Carrick would add his second of the game two minutes into the second, and it seemed like it would be all Colts from there. The Battalion made sure that wasn’t the case though, as Steve Harland and Kyle Wood scored in the third, but a Justin Scott empty-netter put the finishing touches on a 5-2 Colts win. Mangiapane and Kevin Labanc finished the game with three points each, while Scott nabbed his first assist of the playoffs for a two-point evening. MacKenzie Blackwood stopped 32 of 34 shots for the win, including 16 saves in the first period.
Colts lead series 1-0
“Momentum is everything in the playoffs, so it was really important we establish our game and establish our presence, and get the momentum right off the hop,” said Colts winger Keigan Goetz. – Barrie Examiner
“For whatever reason our compete level, our willingness to battle in the first period wasn’t high enough. The slow start cost us,” said head coach Paul McFarland. – Kingston Whig-Standard
Three Stars of the Night
1. Alex Nedeljkovic, Niagara IceDogs: 31 saves, game one win
2. Andrew Mangiapane, Barrie Colts: 2 Goals, 1 Assist, 1 PPG, +2
3. Josh Carrick, Barrie Colts: 2 Goals, +1, GWG
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.