Curtis, Erie Clinches Series with Overtime Winner
Saginaw, Michigan – The Erie Otters have advanced to the second round of the playoffs for the first time since 2004 with a 3-2 overtime victory over the Saginaw Spirit in game five of their Western Conference Quarterfinal to take the series four games to one.
The Otters improved their record to 7-0 in game fives when having a chance to clinch a playoff series. The last first round series victory came in 2004 when the Otters defeated the Sarnia Sting four games to one.
Erie jumped to a 1-0 lead on Connor McDavid’s second goal of the playoffs at 5:29 of the first period. The Otters cashed in at the end of a power play with Eric Locke just getting out of the box to join the play. Brendan Gaunce jarred a puck loose into the crease where Connor McDavid was able to tap home the first goal of the game past Jake Paterson. Saginaw answered late in the first by scoring two goals in a 27 second span. Dylan Sadowy’s fourth of the playoffs tied the game. Then Justin Kea notched his first of the playoffs to give the Spirit their first lead of the night 2-1.
The Otters found themselves down one entering the second period. A few big stops from Paterson kept Saginaw ahead 2-1. That was until Brendan Gaunce came through in the clutch for the Otters. Joel Wigle knocked a member of the Spirit off a puck at the Otters blue line and was able to move the puck up to Dane Fox. Fox found Gaunce on his way to the offensive zone where he used his body to shield the puck from a defender while driving to the goal. Gaunce took the shot that beat Paterson to the blocker side to tie the game at two.
The teams entered the third period deadlocked. Both goaltenders stole the show in the third, each making ten or more saves. Jake Paterson stopped Connor McDavid on a breakaway to keep the game tied. Devin Williams made a diving stop on Cody Payne late in the period to send the teams to overtime.
Connor Brown nearly ended the game in opening seconds of overtime as he drove the net after the opening faceoff win. Paterson shut the door, and then got help from his defensemen to keep a loose puck from crossing the goal line after a shot from the point trickled through. The overtime set up for Michael Curtis to play hero. Curtis carried the puck into the offensive zone and elected to shoot from the high slot. The puck beat Paterson to end the game in overtime with the Otters taking the game 3-2 and ultimately the series.
Erie will wait for their second round opponent as the rest of the OHL’s first round plays out. Dates, times, and opponent for the second round will be announced in the near future.
Locastro-Bonini Insurance Three Stars
1. Jake Paterson – Saginaw Spirit
2. Michael Curtis – Erie Otters
3. Justin Kea – Saginaw Spirit