IceDogs on the brink of elimination
Niagara IceDogs goaltender Stephen Dhillon made 25 saves in a losing effort Saturday. The IceDogs dropped a 3-1 decision at home to the Oshawa Generals and now trail the Ontario Hockey League Eastern Conference best-of-seven series 3-2. Photo by: VIVID EYE PHOTOGRAPHY
The Niagara IceDogs have left themselves no margin for error.
The IceDogs dropped a 3-1 decision at home to the Oshawa Generals and now trail the Ontario Hockey League Eastern Conference best-of-seven series 3-2 after winning the first two games.
The Generals can eliminate the IceDogs and advance to the Eastern Conference final with a win in Game 6 Monday in Oshawa. Game 7, if necessary, is Tuesday in Niagara.
“It’s not ideal,” IceDogs coach Billy Burke said. “The guys really wanted this one. The heart was there, for sure.
“I believe these guys are going to get it done and get it back here for Game 7.”
The IceDogs were without Jason Robertson, who was serving a one-game suspension, but welcomed back sniper Kirill Maksimov, who last played March 14.
Oshawa goalie Kyle Keyser turned in another spectacular effort, kicking out 36 shots. The Boston Bruins draft pick has been a major factor in the Gens’ momentum.
“Their goalie played great, for sure,” Burke said. “In the second, I thought some turnovers were the story.”
There was no scoring in a tight-checking first period that saw the IceDogs outshoot the Gens 11-7. The IceDogs had a two-man advantage for 1:26 early but were turned away.
The Generals finally broke the stalemate with just over four minutes remaining in the second when Cole Resnick snapped a shot past Stephen Dhillon. Dhillon then executed a superb poke check to keep the score at 1-0 on Nando Eggenberger, who had broken in on a clear breakaway.
Jack Studnicka finally got the IceDogs on the board early in the third with his fifth of the playoffs on a quick wrist shot.
The Gens then took a 2-1 lead with 12:59 to play when Daniel Antropov scored a power-play goal. The IceDogs were shorthanded when Dhillon was assessed a minor penalty for unsportsmanlike conduct after he appeared to stick out his leg and trip Nico Gross after the whistle had blown. Dhillon and Burke both argued with the officials about the call.
Eggenberger then iced the game away with an empty-net goal with 19 seconds to play.
“I think at this point there’s not a lot to dwell on,” Burke said. “You adjust the turnovers and then everything else is just play. You can’t be squeezing sticks. I thought the guys wanted it so bad they were squeezing sticks and were a little hesitant.
“We just have to go in loose, in a good way. We have to go in and win one game and get it back here. We have a veteran group and we’ll have our full lineup for the first time all year.”
Burke said the IceDogs can’t deviate from their normal game plan even with their season hanging in the balance.
“I think if we try to sit back or do something that’s not us it’s going to hurt us,” he said. “We tried to have a Game 7 mentality tonight and I thought there was desperation and it was a bit of a practice run for us. Now, Monday is Game 7.
“There’s no room for error. We have to be sharp and be at our best and plan a damn near perfect road game to try and extend this thing.”
Ice cubes: Jason Robertson (suspension), Mason Howard, Jonah DiSimone and Christian Sbaraglia did not dress for the IceDogs . . . Matthew Sbrocca, Matthieu Franche and Danyk Drouin were scratched for the Generals . . . The Niagara Falls Flyers OMHA novice AA champions were honoured before the game . . . IceDogs draft pick Landon Cato was in attendance. Cato is a 6-foot, 206-pound rearguard from Toronto who played last season for the Toronto Nationals where he collected nine goals and 11 points in 20 games.
Generals 3 IceDogs 1
BPSN Star of the Game: Oshawa goalie Kyle Keyser with 36 saves.
Niagara IceDogs: Jack Studnicka (5).
Oshawa Generals: Nando Eggenberger (5); Cole Resnick (4); Daniel Antropov (2).
Game stats: Shots on goal: By Niagara on Keyser (37), by Oshawa on Stephen Dhillon (26); Power plays: Niagara 1-for-4, Oshawa 1-for-4; Penalty minutes: Niagara 10, Oshawa 10.
Attendance: 5,300 (sell out).
Up next: Game 6 Monday in Oshawa. Game 7, if necessary, Tuesday in Niagara.
On the right side of our web site, you will notice a yellow SUPPORT US button.
We are asking anyone who finds value in our work and is able to financially help us to click on the button and contribute whatever amount you feel is appropriate and can afford. There is no set amount. Any amount is appreciated.
The funds collected will be used to enhance and offset the expenses of running the web site.