After taking Game 1 largely because of a two-goal, three-point effort from forward Kyle Maksimovich, the Otters headed to Sarnia for Game 2, the round one matchup seeing an unusual 1-2-2-1-1 format for the OHL regular season champions. Despite playing in Sarnia, the Otters skated to an easy 9-3 victory to take the series 2-0.
Sarnia goaltender Justin Fazio, who made 45 saves on 51 shots in Game 1, suffered an upper body injury in warmups; Aidan Hughes made his playoff debut against the Otters in his stead. Though Hughes made several key saves early in the first period, a power play opportunity was all the Otters needed to take the lead: Warren Foegele, working the slot in front of Hughes, fished the puck out from a mess of skates and put it through the goalie to give Erie the 1-0 lead. Then, midway through the period, Taylor Raddysh rifled a shot over Hughes’ shoulder, increasing the Otters’ lead to two. The Otters’ offensive prowess took over until the end of the period: just 27 seconds after Raddysh’s goal, Erik Cernak scored from the point; and, in the final minutes of the first, Anthony Cirelli slipped a shot by Hughes on a partial breakaway to make it 4-0.
It didn’t take long for the Otters to increase their lead in the second period: Dylan Strome gathered the puck in front of Hughes and tucked it by the goalie’s pad to make it 5-0. Midway through the period, Erie’s Anthony Cirelli took a sharp jab behind the play; fellow deadline acquisition Foegele jumped to the rescue, dropping the gloves with Sarnia’s Drake Rymsha. Sarnia gained a power play from the altercation, and Jordan Ernst scored to put the Sting on the board. Erie came right back, however, as Strome and Cirelli both scored on breakaways to make it 7-1 as the period ended.
With a comfortable six-goal lead heading into the final stanza, the Otters’ first and second lines were given an extended breather. This favored Sarnia to a certain degree, and Sting captain Kevin Spinozzi capitalized by scoring twice in short order to make it 7-3. The Otters responded with two goals of their own late in the game, however: Ivan Lodnia and Haydn Hopkins both beat Blair Coffin to give Erie the 9-3 victory in Game 2.
For the Otters, Alex DeBrincat notched four assists; Taylor Raddysh scored one goal and two assists; Anthony Cirelli added two goals and one assist; Dylan Strome scored twice; and Warren Foegele scored a goal, notched an assist, and added a fight in the second period with Drake Rymsha. Troy Timpano made 27 saves on 30 shots in the win.
Kevin Spinozzi scored twice for the Sting. Aidan Hughes made 24 saves on 31 shots through the first two periods, and Blair Coffin stopped 11 of 13 in relief.
The Otters, who hold the series 2-0 over the Sting, remain in Sarnia for Game 3 on Monday, March 27 before heading back to Erie for Game 4 on Wednesday, March 29.