Tagged: Niagara IceDogs

Eastern Conference Playoff Preview: Are there upsets to be had in the East?

By: Bryan Thiel


The great thing about the playoffs this year in the Ontario Hockey League, is that both conferences were so tight.

In the East, the Oshawa Generals missed first place by four points, while the race for the final three playoff spots came down to three teams and seven points. In the West, there were three teams with 100 points, with the Knights finishing one shy of the century mark.

If that’s any indication, the playoffs will be a lot of fun.

1) Peterborough Petes vs 8) Niagara IceDogs

Up front: The Petes seem to have it figured out offensively this year. The second-highest scoring team in the East got consistent production from the trio of Jonathan Ang, Steven Lorentz, and Logan DeNoble, and then tidied that up with Christopher Paquette and leading scorer Nikita Korostolev (29 points in 24 games with PBO). The IceDogs got a spectacular season out of rookie Akil Thomas, and an equally impressive one out of Oliver Castleman, but it’ll be up to them and Ben Jones and Johnny Corneil to keep pace with the Petes.

On the blueline: Give Ryan Mantha credit: He came into this year motivated, led by example, and earned himself an NHL contract. Now he and Aaron Haydon have to shoulder the load for a very young blueline. At first glance, Peterborough’s defence doesn’t have that ‘wow’ factor, but they’re consistent and reliable. Matthew Timms, Kyle Jenkins, Matt Spencer, and Brandon Prophet will have to prove they can limit the workload for Dylan Wells. Continue reading

Summer Camp: OHL’ers at NHL Development Camps

By: Bryan Thiel


Each year NHL teams hold Development Camps for recently drafted/signed prospects, and to get a good look at some of the players that didn’t get draft but might be worth an entry-level contract.

Sometimes it can be hard to keep track of just who’s going where during the summer, so we’ve broken it down below, going team-by-team through the NHL. As some teams have not released a full roster, this list will be updated as information becomes available. Continue reading

OHL Announces Home Openers for OHL’s Opening Week

By: Bryan Thiel


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The OHL announced the home openers for all 20 teams on Tuesday (Courtesy: OHL).

The OHL announced the schedule for all 20 home openers during 2016/17  Opening Week on Tuesday. All 20 teams will play their home openers between Wednesday, September 21st and Saturday, October 1st.

You can see the schedule below:

(*Indicates a playoff matchup from the 2016 playoffs; Home team is in capitals)

Wednesday, September 21st:

SARNIA STING vs London Knights

FLINT FIREBIRDS vs Saginaw Spirit Continue reading

Across the OHL’s 2016 Playoff All-Star Team

By: Bryan Thiel


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The London Knights claimed their fourth OHL title, sweeping away the Niagara IceDogs (Terry Wilson/OHL Images)

After the London Knights dominated the Ontario Hockey League playoffs to the tune of a 16-2 record and 13 straight wins, they’re OHL champions for the third time since 2011 and off to their fourth Mastercard Memorial Cup in that span.

Now, as with any dominating playoff run, there were a number of stars: Mitch Marner was the recipient of the Wayne Gretzky ’99’ Award as playoff MVP, Matthew Tkachuk led the league in goals, Christian Dvorak had a very pedestrian 35 points in 18 games, and Tyler Parsons backstopped the team to all 16 of their wins (which is important, considering 22 different goalies recorded decisions in these playoffs).

If you were to do some more digging, it’d be very easy to find a pair of defencemen to round out an all-London Knights playoff All-Star team. But where’s the fun in that? While the Knights will be well-represented across the first and second All-Star teams, we did our best to gather up a handful of other OHL’ers to round out both squads, for Across the OHL’s (Delayed by an ill-timed vacation) playoff All-Star team.

Continue reading

Playoff Recap: IceDogs, Colts Take Game One

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

Notable Quotable

“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.

Quick Pix: Round 2 of #OHLPlayoffs Set to Go Tonight

By: Bryan Thiel


 

With round one out of the way, it’s time to get to the second round of the OHL playoffs. With just one upset in the entire league, the Erie Otters have to take on the Sault Ste. Marie Greyhounds, which leaves us with another installment of the London Knights vs Kitchener Rangers. On the East side, it’s number one Kingston against number four Niagara, and North Bay against Barrie.

1. Erie Otters vs. 7. Sault Ste. Marie Greyhounds

The Greyhounds are in a tough spot now. After spoiling the hopes and dreams of the Sarnia Sting, they have to do it to one of the CHL’s best in the Erie Otters. Dylan Strome and Alex DeBrincat have a strong core around them that can shoulder the offensive load if the two big guns get shut down, and I’ve always been a fan of Devin Williams in net. If Brandon Halverson can be as good in the second round as he was in the first, I think the Greyhounds can frustrate the Otters with a balanced attack. Can they pull of a second-straight upset? I don’t think so, but you never know. A team that’s seen to be playing with house money is always dangerous.

Otters in six

3. London Knights vs. 4. Kitchener Rangers

This series is always fun. It doesn’t matter how much time passes and who the stars are, the London Knights and Kitchener Rangers still hate each other. The Knights are one of the deeper teams in the CHL, with talent across the board. Cliff Pu had a good first round, and he’ll need that to continue as a secondary threat behind the Marner/Tkachuk/Dvorak trio with Max Jones out for the series. The Rangers are an interesting team though, in the fact that they’re deep too, and I don’t see a huge drop off in talent. Overall I think the Knights have more talent, but they’re undisciplined. London was shorthanded the third-most times in the first round, and finished with a bleak 65% on the penalty kill while the Rangers clicked on the power play at just under 35%. That’s not to say the Rangers were much better though, as they finished with the worst PK% at 55%, but were shorthanded 12 fewer times (in one fewer game) than the Knights and their 20.8% power play. The Knights won the season series 4-2, but coming out on top here all depends if they can keep their cool.

Rangers in seven

1.Kingston Frontenacs vs. 4. Niagara IceDogs

In the first round I said the Niagara IceDogs had the talent to at least make the Conference Finals. I still believe it, but if they want to do that they’ll have to make their way through the East’s best in the Kingston Frontenacs. Kingston made it through the first round with a high-powered offence lead by Michael Dal Colle and Spencer Watson, but I do wonder what might happen if Niagara can rattle Jeremy Helvig and Lucas Peressini a little bit. It’s one thing to be jumping back and forth between the two against Oshawa, but against Niagara it could be trouble. On the other side the IceDogs have one of the best in Alex Nedeljkovic, in spite of what the first round numbers might say. Josh Ho-Sang seems to have found a friend in Pavel Janys, and I think Niagara has good depth. They didn’t have to rely too much on it for additional offence against Ottawa though, so they’ll need everyone to be on their game from the start.

IceDogs in seven

2. Barrie Colts vs. 3. North Bay Battalion

In a matchup of two teams that had to go the distance in round one, two of the league’s four 50-goal scorers will go head-to-head. Mike Amadio’s goal-scoring prowess has carried over into the post-season, as he had nine goals and 14 points in the first round for North Bay. Andrew Mangipane meanwhile, was quiet by his 51-goal standards with just four in the first round, but two of them were game-winners, including the one that sent the Colts to round two. Kevin Labanc had a great first round with 12 points in seven games (he had a point in every game except a shutout loss in game six), but the hot hand belongs to Justin Scott. Scott scored 10 goals in the first round (one more than Amadio for the playoff lead), and is a huge part of a lethal Barrie attack. North Bay has always played their system well, and have some of their best weapons in years with Amadio, Kyle Wood, Cam Dineen, and Matt Santos. The problem will be what happens if the games open up. North Bay was fine when they were able to limit Peterborough’s offence in round one and let their stars go to work, but they always seemed a goal short when things started to open up against the Petes despite keeping things close. I think this one will be every bit as interesting as both of these teams’ first round series, with the Colts finding a way to move on.

Colts in seven

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 five seasons. You can follow him on Twitter @BryanThiel_88.

 

Playoff Recap: Soo Stunner, Colts Don’t Cave, Battalion Win War

By: Bryan Thiel


 

Three game sevens in the OHL last night, meaning we’re officially off to the second round!

Peterborough Petes @ North Bay Battalion

The sixth-seeded Peterborough Petes were trying to play spoiler in North Bay, and they got off to a great start when Josh Maguire scored four minutes in to give the Petes a 1-0 lead. The Battalion would battle back though, as a Kyle Wood one-timer would tie things up and Matthew Santos would snap one home with 1:31 to go in the first to give the Troops a lead they would never relinquish. Michael Amadio would add his eighth and ninth goals of the series in the second and third to wrap up a 4-1 Battalion win. For Amadio, it was a three-point night as he assisted on the game-winner, while Wood finished with two points and Cam Dineen added a pair of helpers. Jake Smith made 27 saves for the series-clinching victory, as he allowed just three goals in North Bay’s four wins over the Petes.

North Bay wins series 4-3

Sault Ste. Marie Greyhounds @ Sarnia Sting

Sarnia loaded up at the Trade Deadline for a reason, and it wasn’t to be staring at a potential first-round exit thanks to a seven-game series. Five minutes in, Anthony Salinitri calmed the nerves a little bit as his second have the Sting a 1-0 lead. The Greyhounds however, weren’t about to go quietly as Gabe Guertler netted his fourth of the series halfway through the first, and Bobby MacIntyre would put the ‘Hounds ahead 2-1 with his third. Pavel Zach poked in his sixth on a power play in the late second to tie things up headed to the third, where there would be fireworks. 27 seconds in Blake Speers put the Soo up 3-2, and Boris Katchouk would score seven minutes later for a two-goal lead. Not willing to say die, Troy Lajeunesse would cut it to one with just over two to go, but that’s as close as the Sting would get. Brandon Halverson turned aside four shots in the last two minutes and 36 of 39 overall on the night, leading Sault Ste. Marie to a 4-3 win and a spot in the second round. Katchouk and Zach Senyshyn would both finish with two-point efforts, while Lajeunesse had a goal and two assists in the loss. The Soo left the Sting disappointed in the first round once again, as six Greyhounds finished with four or more points in the series.

Sault Ste. Marie wins series 4-3

Mississauga Steelheads @ Barrie Colts

In a series with plenty of twists and turns, the upstart Steelheads were primed for an upset of the Barrie Colts. After a scoreless first in Barrie, draft eligible Michael McLeod put the Steelheads up 1-0 after he backhanded home a rolling puck past MacKenzie Blackwood. Jack Flinn (24 saves through two periods) and the Steelheads would take that lead to the third before the Barrie offence took over….well, Justin Scott took over. Scott scored his eighth four minutes in to the final frame, and five minutes later the Colts got a lead they would never relinquish. Andrew Mangiapane snapped one home from the slot on the power play, and Scott would add two more for the hat-trick to snuff out the Steelheads’ chances. Kevin Labanc would add an empty-netter to wrap up the game with a 5-1 win and the series 4-3. Labanc and Mangiapane would add multi-point efforts for the Colts, as Blackwood made 22 saves for the win.

Barrie wins series 4-3

 

Honour System

Kingston Frontenacs vs Oshawa Generals

Bryan said: Kingston wins 4-1

What actually happened: Kingston won 4-1

AtO Series MVP: Spencer Watson: To be honest, I was really leaning towards Warren Foegele and his two game-winning goals for this, but when your team also features the playoffs’ leading scorer (15 points in five games) it’s kind of hard to hand it to someone else.

 

Barrie Colts vs Mississauga Steelheads

Bryan said: Barrie wins 4-2

What actually happened: Barrie won 4-3

AtO Series MVP: Justin Scott: Who needs assists? Justin Scott apparently doesn’t. The OA finished with 10 goals in the series, and almost all of them came in big spots. He scored four goals in a 6-5 OT win for Barrie in Game 4 (including the game-tying and game-winning goals), and a hat-trick in the series clincher. The Mississauga offence gave Barrie fits at times, but overall the Colts were a little too up-and-down in this series, and hit a snag with MacKenzie Blackwood’s mid-series injury.

 

North Bay Battalion vs Peterborough Petes

Bryan said: Petes win 4-2

What actually happened: North Bay won 4-3

AtO Series MVP: Jake Smith: Michael Amadio is second in playoff scoring and Kyle Wood leads all defencemen in points, but when Smith was on in this series, he was on. In the three losses he gave up 17 goals, but in his four wins he allowed just one goal each, including a shutout in Game 4.

 

Niagara IceDogs vs Ottawa 67’s

Bryan said: IceDogs win 4-2

What actually happened: IceDogs won 4-1

AtO Series MVP: Pavel Jenys: Jenys and Josh Ho-Sang were literally connected at the hip this series, as all seven of Jenys’ points (five goals and two assists) involved Ho-Sang (11 points in five games). Jenys stepped up in his first taste of playoff hockey, leading the team in goals and power play goals.

 

Erie Otters vs Saginaw Spirit

Bryan said: Otters win 4-1

What actually happened: Otters won 4-0

AtO Series MVP: Alex DeBrincat/Dylan Strome: Both DeBrincat and Strome finished with nine points in the series, as Strome tied for the team-lead in goals and DeBrincat tied for the team-lead in assists. DeBrincat also lead the team with six power play points.

 

Sarnia Sting vs Sault Ste. Marie Greyhounds

Bryan said: Sting win 4-2

What actually happened: Greyhounds won 4-3

AtO Series MVP: Brandon Halverson: Halverson faced a lot of rubber this series, seeing the most shots (261) and stopping the most (236) in the OHL. The 3.36 GAA isn’t an eye-popping number, nor is the 0.904 SV%, but when you consider the offence on the other side even without Travis Konecny, he was the rock that made the upset possible.

 

London Knights vs Owen Sound Attack

Bryan Said: Knights win 4-1

What actually happened: Knights won 4-2

AtO Series MVP: Matthew Tkachuk: I won’t lie…I’m pretty mad. The whole time I had ‘Knights in six’ written, and a late edit changed it to Knights in five. Tkachuk tied Mitch Marner for the team lead in points, but a bulk of his production came from a four and five point game. Cliff Pu got serious consideration here (five goals, one assist and was in on two GWG) but I don’t think his numbers were quite strong enough.

 

Kitchener Rangers vs Windsor Spitfires

Bryan Said: Rangers win 4-3

What actually happened: Rangers won 4-1

AtO Series MVP: Brandon Robinson: The veteran forward stepped up in a big way for the Rangers, who lucked out by barely having to deal with Brendan Lemieux en route to a 3-0 series lead. Two game-winning goals for Robinson is a big reason he wins here, but he was huge in other key situations too.

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.

 

Playoff Recap: Spits Survive, Wild One at the Bayshore, IceDogs Thrill in Ottawa

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.

 

Three Stars:

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.

Playoff Recap: Nylander Returns, Marner Sinks Attack, Rangers Eye 2nd Round

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

Notable Quotable:

“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

Three Stars

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

 

Playoff Recap: Fireworks in Kitchener, IceDogs Prevail, Barrie On Hold

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.