IceDogs score 7 in victory vs Otters
Photo Credit: vivideyephotography
Coming off on overtime thriller on Tuesday vs Peterborough (their 3rd straight game in extra time), the IceDogs welcome in Erie for "DJ Night" at the Meridian Centre. Niagara have picked up 5 out of a possible 6 points during that span, moving to within 13 points of Peterborough for the final playoff spot in the Eastern Conference.
The only Western Conference opponent for the IceDogs this season in the Erie Otters comes into the game sitting 4 points behind the Sarnia Sting for the final playoff spot in the Western Conference, both having played 56 games.
The Otters are led by star defenseman Jordan Kyrou, brother of Jordan who is currently thriving with the St. Louis Blues of the NHL. Kyrou is 3rd in the OHL in scoring for defenseman with 53 in 56 games and comes into tonight's matchup with a staggering 9 points in only 4 games vs the IceDogs this season.
Niagara come into the game yet to have defeated the Otters this season, going 0-4 and being outscored 20-10 in those matchups. Niagara are led by Aidan Castle who has 2 goals, 1 assist in 4 games vs the Otters.
Niagara would unfortunately be without many key contributors tonight as Danil Gushchin, Brenden Sirizzotti, Alec Leonard, Rodwin Dionicio, Cam Peters, and Anthony Agostinelli were all out due to injuries or illness.
Aidan Castle would be the IceDogs leading point producer in tonight's lineup with Gushchin and Sirizzotti out of the lineup (13 goals, 20 assists in 57 games).
(RW) Brice Cooke
(C) Pano Fimis
(LW) Aidan Castle
(D) Isaac Enright
(D) Dakota Betts
(G) Josh Rosenzweig
IceDogs goaltender Josh Rosenzweig comes up with 2 big stops in the first minute of the game, denying Erie an early lead. Lockhart goes off for high sticking, giving the IceDogs a powerplay less than 5 minutes into the game. Nothing doing on the early man advantage however, as Erie does a good job of clogging the middle of the ice.
Another big save by Rosenzweig off the turnover in the IceDogs net, but the Otters keep posession and are able to find Sedore right on the doorstep who riffles it past the Niagara goaltender who stood no chance on the play.
The IceDogs respond on the next shift as Liam Van Loon uses his power on the left wing, cuts in and is able to sneak it past Lalonde to tie the game 1-1. Great response by Niagara after surrendering a goal the previous shift.
Juan Copeland has a glorious chance to give the IceDogs the lead and follows up with a few more chances in the zone after Erie rings one off the post. The puck goes back down to the Otters end and Isaac Enright is able to circle around the net and fire one past Lalonde who was screened, giving the IceDogs a 2-1 lead.
A scrum in front of Rosenzweig after a few late pokes from Otters players results in penalties both ways with just over a minute to go in the opening stanza. D'amato, Lockhart, Enright, Michaud all go off for roughing.
Juan Copeland gets the extra minor sticking up for his goaltender. Van Loon has another shorthanded opportunity, cuts in on Lalonde who goes crashing into his post. No goal on the play and Lalonde stays down for a few moments before leaving under his own power. Nicholls enters the net for the Otters.
A great shorthanded chance late in the period once again by Liam Van Loon who finds Fimis for the redirection to give the IceDogs a 3-1 lead. A huge momentum changer at the end of the period. Shots 12-12 after the 1st.
The IceDogs start period two with 59 seconds left on the penalty kill. Brice Cooke gets called for a penalty on the Otters' Johnston after getting him with a high stick. IceDogs to another penalty kill early on this period.
Sova takes the pass at the point and a seeing eye puck finds its way past Rosenzweig who had traffic in front of him. The Erie PP Goal makes it 3-2.
Erie calls an unusual timeout in the defensive zone with 14 minutes still to play in the 2nd Period after an icing call. It seems to work as the Otters will draw a slashing penalty by Enright on the next shift and head back to a powerplay. A huge cross crease save by Rosenzweig to rob D'Amato who was literally standing in the blue paint to keep the IceDogs ahead. It leads to an Aidan Castle chance that just trickles wide of Nicholls net.
Brice Cooke continues his scoring prowess as he takes the pass from Pano Fimis who skated behind the net to find his Toronto Jr Canadiens teammate who pots it in past Nicholls for his 16th of the season. 4-2 IceDogs.
Struthers gets called for high sticking which has the IceDogs coaching staff unpleased about the call, with some choice words for the officials. A bad turnover by the Otters in their own end leads to another shorthanded chance for Pano Fimis who just shoots it wide, looking for his 2nd shorthanded goal of the night.
Another successful kill by the IceDogs, keeps the 4-2 lead in tact. Kulakov gets into it with Rosenzweig, leading to Dakota Betts dropping the gloves wanting to go after his opponent. Both players are ready to engage and the referees break it up before the fight could start. Both players go off, leading to a 4on4 to end the 2nd period.
A 3on2 chance for the Otters leads to Erie star defenseman Christian Kyrou ringing one off the goalpost for the second time in the contest. D'Amato gets called for checking to the head on Pano Fimis along the boards, who is very unhappy about the call.IceDogs to a 4on3 powerplay for 57 seconds and 50 seconds remaining in the period. The period ends with Cato just missing the top corner but it hits the glass in behind. Shots 24-18 in favour of the visitors from Erie after two periods.
Cato goes to the room for the IceDogs in some pain but returns shortly after. On that same shift Roobroeck is called for interference on the Erie skater right at the opposing blue line. IceDogs to another penalty kill.
Another solid penalty kill by the IceDogs but the Otters maintain possession and its Christian Kyrou who wrists one in to make it 4-3.
A great defensive play by captain Dakota Betts breaking up a possible 2 on 1 chance, diving to make the block.
The next shift the IceDogs go down and Liam Van Loon continues his strong game, redirecting the point shot by Enright, for his 18th of the season. Even before the last goal could be finished being announced, another point shot by Wycisk is tipped in by rookie Declan Waddick. Goals on back-to-back shifts for Niagara, giving them a 6-3 stranglehold on this game with 7 minutes to play.
Erie pulls the goaltender with 5 minutes to go, down by 3 goals. Declan Waddick just misses the open net from his own blue line, as the attempt trickles just wide of the cage. Goaltender Josh Rosenzweig was sensational late with Erie pressuring 6on5. Erie are finally able to break through as Bressette pots it in taking the quick touch pass from Cohen. IceDogs still lead 6-4 with a minute and a half left.
Liam Van Loon gets the courtesy pass from Michaud to pot it into the empty net for the hat trick.
IceDogs win it 7-4. Niagara earns its 7th out of a possible 8 points in the last 4 games. Shots 46-27 in favour of the visitors but Josh Rosenzweig stopped 42 of the 46 in the victory.
Home to North Bay on Saturday and in Erie for a Sunday matinee rematch from tonight.
JERSEY HOUSE PLAYER OF THE GAME: #88 Liam Van Loon
Photo Credit: vivideyephotography