The Otters secured two wins at home in the Erie Insurance Arena, taking a 2-0 series over the Mississauga Steelheads in the OHL Championship Series. Despite scoring three straight goals to take a 3-2 lead entering the third period, an unfortunate play and a late penalty on the Otters’ part led to the Steelheads edging the Western Conference Champions 4-3.
The Steelheads needed a solid response after dropping Game Two 3-2 off Warren Foegele’s shorthanded breakaway. Playing at home for the first time in the finals this season, Mississauga jumped to an early lead when Ryan McLeod–who had two goals the night before–slipped behind the Erie defense and backhanded the puck over goaltender Troy Timpano. The Steelheads relied on their defenders and goaltender to shut down the Otters’ scorers, and Mississauga maintained their 1-0 lead into the second intermission.
Trent Fox, the former Erie Otter and brother of Dane Fox, put his former team down 2-0 early in the second period: he received Brendan Harrogate’s pass in front of Timpano and snapped it through the goalie, giving the Steelheads their first two-goal lead of the series. The Otters picked up the pace after the second Mississauga goal, looking to have a strong second half of the period to get back into the game. It was Alex DeBrincat who put the Otters on the board first, taking a one-timer on the back door that beat Matthew Mancina cleanly. Then, Erie’s offense began taking over the game. Captain Dylan Strome scored short-side on the goalie minutes later to tie the game at two, shocking the Steelheads–who had all the momentum coming into the second period. Then, at the other end of the ice, Michael McLeod narrowly missed the net as he pulled the puck around Timpano; the Otters regained possession and stormed back into Mississauga’s end. Kyle Maksimovich’s rebound bounced right to Anthony Cirelli, who shot through Mancina to give the Otters a 3-2 lead into the second intermission.
Mississauga’s Nathan Bastian tied the game again midway through the third period. His bank-shot deflected off Timpano’s thigh from behind the goal-line to make it 3-3. Then, after several consecutive power plays, Michael McLeod tipped a shot past the goalie to give the Steelheads the late one-goal lead. The Steelheads hung on for the 4-3 win.
For the Otters, Alex DeBrincat and Dylan Strome each scored one goal and one assist each; Taylor Raddysh notched two assists; and Troy Timpano made 27 saves on 31 shots in the loss.
Nathan Bastian scored the game-tying goal with a bank-shot, and Michael McLeod tipped the game-winning goal on the power play. They’re both New Jersey Devils prospects. Matthew Mancina made 23 saves on 26 shots in the win.
The Otters have a 2-1 series lead after their away loss. They’ll face the Steelheads on Wednesday, May 10 for Game Four of the OHL Championship Series.