The Erie Otters lost to the Niagara Ice Dogs in the shootout tonight by the final score of 5-4. The Otters outplayed the Ice Dogs on a variety of fronts for the majority of the game, but squandered a two-goal lead with a tumultuous and largely undisciplined third period. The Otters played great hockey through two periods, but once again had trouble in the final frame. Newly-named team captain Kyle Maksimovich had two goals in the matchup. Ivan Lodnia had a three-point night with a goal and two assists.
Maxim Golod opened the scoring 3:20 into the 1st, going five-hole on Stephen Dhillon. Josh Wainman kept the puck in the Niagara zone at the blue line and dished to Golod for the primary assist on the goal. The Ice Dogs got some offense rolling at the halfway mark of the 1st as Ben Jones tied the game at 1-1 and then Drew Hunter tapped in a rebound just over a minute later to take the lead at 2-1. Minutes later, Dhillon robbed Golod who should’ve had a wide open net backdoor after a netfront pass from Alex Gritz, but Dhillon was able to slide across in the knick of time and snag his shot out of midair with the glove. The period ended with the Ice Dogs up 2-1 and the Otters with a slight edge in shots, 11-10.
The Otters’ offense broke through in the middle frame, producing three unanswered goals. Kyle Maksimovich scored his first of two at the halfway point of the game to tie with an impressive goal, waiting out Dhillon one-on-one and sliding the puck past him when he went down on the initial save attempt. Three minutes later, Gera Poddubnyi was flattened with a big hit by Kyle Langdon that resulted in a five-minute Major and Game Misconduct for Charging. Ivan Lodnia scored on the delayed penalty which practically went unnoticed as everyone’s attention was on the downed Poddubnyi, who picked up the primary assist on Lodnia’s goal. On the ensuing power play, Maksimovich scored with a hard shot from the point as Girhiny provided a screen to give the Otters a 4-2 lead heading into the 3rd.
Poddubnyi was back on the ice for the 3rd period, which was not the Otters’ best performance. At 8:38 into the final frame, Danial Singer undressed an Otters defenseman and scored to make it 4-3. Less than two minutes later, Sam Miletic scored the equalizer. With six minutes left in regulation, Max Golod kicked his skate out at an Ice Dog from the ground after having been shoved down on the previous netfront play. He received a five-minute match penalty for Kicking and exited the game. Golod had played fantastically for the majority of the game, up until he took that undisciplined penalty. Just over two minutes into the five-minute Ice Dogs power play, Kurtis Henry received a penalty for a Check from Behind. The Otters managed to kill off the ensuing 5-on-3, with Ryan Martin taking a puck to the face in the process and still returning for the remainder of the penalty kill, to force overtime.
The Otters had all four of the total shots on goal in overtime. Maksimovich rang a puck off the post with a broken stick looking for the hat trick and game-winning goal, but the game ultimately had to be settled in the shootout.
Ivan Lodnia and Sam Miletic both scored in the second round of the shootout, but Akil Thomas netted the game-winner for the Ice Dogs in the third round after Dhillon made the save on Maksimovich. Golod, who has proven to be the Otters’ best shootout player, was sidelined with his match penalty and thereby unable to help his team secure the extra point. The final score was 5-4, Ice Dogs, with Erie edging them in SOGs at 35-34. Anand Oberoi and Stephen Dhillon posted nearly identical save percentages, 0.882 and 0.886 respectively.
The Otters rematch the Ice Dogs on home ice this Saturday at 7pm.