Otters rally past IceDogs
Niagara IceDogs coach Ryan Kuwabara chose to look on bright side of Friday’s night’s 4-3 overtime loss to the Erie Otters at Meridian Centre.
“We got a point out of that tonight and we’re excited about that and we have to go there (Saturday) and get two,” Kuwabara said. “Staying positive is important for our group. We’re making small steps to being a better hockey team.
“That first period, if we can play 60 minutes like that, we’re going to win. It’s some good learning points for sure. We know we can do it. It’s not like we can’t, it’s just putting together 60 minutes.”
The loss drops the IceDogs to 7-17-4-1 in Ontario Hockey League action. Niagara has one win, one overtime loss, one shootout loss and five regulation losses since Kuwabara took over for interim coach Jeff Angelidis earlier this month.
The IceDogs got off to a strong start, scoring three goals by the 15-minute mark of the first period, but a late power-play goal by the Otters with just five seconds remaining in the first seemed to turn the tide.
“We lost some confidence there,” Kuwabara said. “We had a great first period I thought and then slowly they started to have some pace and put some pressure on us and we tightened up a little bit.
“We made uncharacteristic mistakes. We’re trying to pass through the middle a lot where our plan is not to do that.”
The Otters peppered Niagara goaltender Owen Flores with 17 shots in the middle frame but came away empty.
“He gives us a chance to win every night, which is what we need,” Kuwabara said. “He’s playing great.”
Erie netted an early goal in the third to narrow the gap to 3-2 and then finally tied the score at 3-3 when Bruce McDonald netted his third of the season at the 8:39 mark.
“We have lot of guys playing a lot of minutes right now, but what are you going to do? Sometimes you have to make mistakes and learn from them and I think that was a game where we’re going to learn from them and learn to be better,” Kuwabara said.
“It’s junior hockey. It’s going to happen. It’s happened more times than not unfortunately where you think these guys are men. They’re young men and they’re going to make mistakes at times when the pressure is the most. When you get to pro, you don’t make those mistakes anymore and it’s our job to get them there.”
Erie won it when Malcom Spence roofed a shot past Flores three minutes into overtime.
Ice cubes: Landon Cato, Andrew LeBlanc and Rodwin Dionicio (World Juniors) did not dress for the IceDogs . . . Ty Henry, Liam Gilmartin, Alex Messier and Colby Saganiuk were scratched for the Otters.
Niagara’s Owen Flores and Erie’s Malcolm Spence.
Otters 4 IceDogs 3 OT
Niagara IceDogs: Daniel Michaud (9); Kevin He (9); Nolan Dann (6).
Erie Otters: Carey Terrance (14); Malcolm Spence (6); Bruce McDonald (3); Ondrej Molnar (1).
Game stats: Shots on goal: By Niagara on Kyle Downey (30), by Erie on Owen Flores (46); Power plays: Niagara 0/3, Erie 1/6; Penalty minutes: Niagara 16, Erie 10.
Next up: The IceDogs are in Erie Saturday and back home Friday, Jan. 6 against Ottawa.
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