March 18, 2017
Needing just one win to safely secure the top spot in the Western Conference and a fourth-straight fifty-win season, the Otters faced the Guelph Storm in Erie for the last game of the regular season. The Otters spent most of the game in Guelph’s zone and skated away with a solid 5-2 win, clinching the OHL’s regular season title and giving them home-ice advantage through the playoffs.
Though Erie’s offense maintained persistent pressure throughout the first period, Anthony Popovich stayed strong in Guelph’s net and stopped all 18 shots he faced. At the other end in Erie’s net, Troy Timpano only needed to make two saves through the first twenty minutes of play, and the Otters skated off for the first intermission tied with Guelph at zero.
It took twenty-two shots to score, but the Otters eventually broke through Popovich early in the second period: Warren Foegele entered the zone, took Anthony Cirelli’s pass, and rifled the puck over Popovich’s glove to give the Otters their first lead of the game. Then, surging with momentum, the Otters quickly rattled off another two goals. Taylor Raddysh scored on a slapshot from the point, and Jordan Sambrook beat Popovich on a breakaway to give Erie the 3-0 lead. The three goals were scored in just over two minutes of play. Guelph saw an extended power play shortly thereafter, and Albert Michnac scored to make it 3-1. But the Otters’ offense had solved Popovich, and they scored twice more to increase their lead to 5-1: Alex DeBrincat and Anthony Cirelli each put shots over Popovich’s glove, sending the Otters into the third period with a comfortable four-goal lead.
Popovich returned to his first period form in the third period, denying every Otters chance he faced, but the Storm were unable to challenge the Otters or goaltender Timpano. Eventually, Guelph’s Nate Schnarr scored late in the third period off a fortuitous bounce that popped up over Timpano and down his back, but it wouldn’t matter as the Otters skated to a simple 5-2 victory.
For the Otters, Anthony Cirelli scored a goal and two assists; Alex DeBrincat and Taylor Raddysh each scored a goal and notched an assist; Darren Raddysh recorded two assists; and Troy Timpano made 14 saves on 16 shots in the victory.
Albert Michnac and Nate Schnarr scored Guelph’s goals, and Anthony Popovich made 42 saves on 47 shots in the loss.
With the win, the Erie Otters recorded their fourth-straight fifty-win season. They also clinched first in the OHL heading into the playoffs, giving them home-ice advantage for each series. They face the Sarnia Sting for the first round of the playoffs.