Otters comeback win vs IceDogs in cross-border matchup
By: Brandon Caputo
Photo Credit: Vivid Eye Photography
Coming off a nail-biter 3-2 shootout victory against the North Bay Battalion on Tuesday Night, the
IceDogs (10-18-1-1) now only sit 6 points back of the final playoff spot with 7 games in hand on 8th place Sudbury. Niagara has also picked up 3 out of a possible 6 points in their last 3 outings. Erie currently sits last place in the Western Conference with a 12-18-1-2 record and are the only cross-conference & American-based opponent for the IceDogs this season.
This is the 2nd meeting between these two teams in 2021-22, with Erie coming out on top in the first meeting by a score of 6-4 at the Meridian Centre back on November 4th. Danil Gushchin is out for the IceDogs as he awaits word on a possible suspension following a 5-minute game misconduct penalty on Tuesday Night, when he collided with the North Bay Goaltender.
Gushchin is currently deemed as "out indefinitely." Anthony Agostinelli is coming off a game in which he potted a crucial goal for Niagara, so he gets the opportunity to move up to the IceDogs top-line RW spot with Gushchin out of the lineup.
LW Liam Van Loon
C Cam Peters
RW Brendan Sirizzotti
LD: Landon Cato
RD: Dakota Betts
G: Josh Rosenzweig
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The game starts with a good pace, which begins with Rodwin Dionicio having a solid chance within the first 3 minutes of the game. Niagara's D-man skates around the offensive zone and rips one off the left post of Lalonde. Declan Waddick gets called for an unfortunate tripping penalty in the offensive zone and the IceDogs go to the PK. Vancouver Canucks prospect Connor Lockhart rips one off the crossbar, but Niagara is able to kill off the early man advantage for the Otters. Dakota Betts lays out a huge hit on Sedore cutting into the Niagara zone, as he makes his presence felt quickly into the contest.
Rookie winger Brice Cooke cuts into the zone and draws a tripping penalty, giving the IceDogs the man advantage halfway through the first period. Not much on the Powerplay and Niagara get sloppy in their own end, giving Erie a few good shorthanded opportunities, but goalie Rosenzweig is up for the task to stop both.
Brice Cooke makes an impact again this period as he takes the stretch pass on the left-wing and cuts to the net with a shot that looks to cross the line, but the referee blows it dead in Lalonde's equipment.
NO GOAL on the play. Erie start to press late in the period with the IceDogs hemmed in their own zone but Rosenzweig stands tall to keep it scoreless after the 1st period. Shots 13-7 in favour of the Otters.
A broken play results in a goal as Sedore enters the zone and is checked but the puck is picked up by Lockhart for the first goal of the game to give Erie the lead. Michaud goes right down off the next faceoff and gets his 1st goal as an IceDog to tie the game 1-1. Niagara gets the next man advantage but wasn't able to capitalize on the powerplay opportunity. Aiden Castle almost turns a broken play into a breakaway but slips on the play.
Another good shift by Sirizzotti and Van Loon as they connect on a 2on1 but the redirection just goes wide.
Anthony Agostinelli is able to pot one in once again for his 2nd goal in as many nights on the powerplay as he redirects the perfect pass from Castle and the IceDogs take the 2-1 lead.
A scrum behind the Erie net quickly ensues as Dakota Betts and Morton exchange pleasantries.
Betts gets called for the extra minor penalty and Niagara is on the PK once again.
Sirizzotti goes off for the IceDogs as they are trying to shoot the puck down the ice, which sends Erie to a 2-man advantage for 40 seconds.
Another broken play for the Otters as Lockhart is able to take the pass on a 2on1 D'Amato when 2 players collided at the blue line to make it 2-2. The IceDogs challenge the play for goaltender interference as D'Amato looked to bump Niagara's Rosenzweig before getting the pass off. After an extensive review, the call on the ice stands and Erie takes the lead. Kulakov goes off for a trip that will give the IceDogs another powerplay chance.
Castle is able to get the puck in the high slot after the IceDogs dangerously play with it near the blue line, almost resulting in a shorthanded chance for the Otters. IceDogs lead 3-2 after the powerplay goal by Erie.
Kyrou takes the pass just inside the IceDogs blue line from Sellan and rips it past Rosenzweig, which goes crossbar down and ties the game for the Otters at 3-3. Shots after the 2nd period are 31-14 in favour of Erie.
Erie has a quick chance to start the 3rd period and Enright takes down the Otters forward, which sends Niagara to an early penalty kill to start the final stanza. A very tough break as the IceDogs Sirizzotti tries to defend a cross-crease pass but ends up redirecting it into his own net in the process. 4-3 Otters as Hoffmann gets credit for the goal. Niagara gets a quick chance off the next faceoff as Dionicio cuts into the slot, but fans on the shot.
A big blocked shot by Leonard on a wrist shot in a Grade A scoring opportunity for Hoffmann keeps it a one goal game for the time being.
The IceDogs were not doing themselves any favours in this period when Castle takes a penalty that he will definitely want to have back, as he incidentally trips an Otters forward along the boards. Erie is back to another man advantage. Coming off a very strong performance on Tuesday Night, Pano Fimis cuts in on a shorthanded opportunity and Lalonde has to make a key save to keep the one-goal lead. As the powerplay expires for Erie, Hoffmann gets called for tripping and Niagara will get their consequent chance on the man advantage.
The IceDogs have one glorious chance with the man advantage as a scrum in the left corner results in the puck squeaking out to Fimis with a gang of players still in the corner, he has all day to find Sirizzotti for a wide-open chance but just misses him on the attempted pass.
IceDogs pull the goalie with 2:20 left on the clock needing the tying goal. Sirizzotti has a late chance in the slot with about 18 seconds left but it is stopped by the blocker of Lalonde. A late scrum along the boards with Erie trying to pin the puck to burn more time off the clock and penalties are called with little time remaining.
IceDogs win the draw but don't have enough time to even get a shot off as the clock expires for a 4-3 Otters victory. Final shots 42-21 in favour of Erie. Josh Rosenzweig stops 38 of 42 shots for another strong performance in a losing effort.
Jersey House Player of the Game: Aidan Castle (1 goal, 1 assist)
Photo Credit: Brandon Taylor/OHL Images