April 18, 2017
Game seven: it was the Otters’ first of the playoffs and fourth in their history; the Knights had dispatched the Spitfires in seven games during the conference quarter-finals. With both teams facing elimination, they battled each other to a 4-4 tie through regulation. In overtime, Warren Foegele–one of the Otters’ highly-touted trade-deadline acquisitions–scored the game-winner and sent his team to the Western Conference Finals as the Otters defeated the Knights 5-4.
Neither team held back to start the first period: Erie and London traded numerous scoring chances early on, with Knights goaltender Tyler Parsons denying several sure-fire goals from the Otters’ offense. Eventually, however, the Otters broke through: Ivan Lodnia skated around the defenders and deked past Parsons, slipping the puck over the goal-line to give his team the early 1-0 lead. But, minutes later, Janne Kuokkanen drew a penalty and sent the Knights to the power play: just seconds into the man-advantage, Kuokkanen scored to tie the game. Then, Evan Bouchard capitalized on a fortunate bounce to slap the puck past Erie goalie Troy Timpano, making it 2-1, and Cliff Pu scored shortside shortly thereafter to make it 3-1, ending Timpano’s nightt in net. Joseph Murdaca entered the game in relief. Buoyed with a late-period surge, Erie’s Darren Raddysh snapped a shot through Parsons with 0.2 seconds to spare, making it 3-2 heading into the second period.
Murdaca did his job in the second: he every shot he faced, including one on the breakaway, to keep the Otters in the game. Equally fantastic was Parsons, however, shutting down Erie’s top scorers despite seeing more than twice as many shots as Murdaca–21 in all for the second period. The Otters skated off for the first intermission trailing 3-2, their season on the line.
Anthony Cirelli, the Otters’ big prize at the trade deadline–and a player who has both won a Game 7 and a Memorial Cup–had the game on his stick early in the third: coming down on Parsons on an odd-man rush, Cirelli opted to shoot, beating Parsons blocker-side and tying the game. With the momentum on their side, the Otters hammered Parsons with shots–and eventually, Alex DeBrincat broke through, firing the puck through the goaltender to give Erie the 4-3 lead. Nothing comes easy, however, and the Knights drew a late penalty to go on the power play with under three minutes remaining. Mitchell Stephens tied the game during a scramble in front–a goal that was reviewed extensively for goaltender interference, but which ultimately counted. Game 7 headed to overtime.
Both teams traded prime scoring chances in overtime; goaltenders Parsons and Murdaca stood strong in their respective nets, stopping every shot they faced early in the period. But, in the end, Warren Foegele–whose third period penalty led to the Knights’ tying goal–tipped the puck past Parsons on the rush to give the Otters the victory, putting them in the Western Conference Final versus Owen Sound. It was the Otters’ first Game 7 victory in franchise history.
For the Otters, Warren Foegele scored the game-winning goal in overtime and an assist earlier in the game; Darren Raddysh and Alex DeBrincat both scored a goal and an assist each; and Dylan Strome notched two assists. Troy Timpano made 8 saves on 11 shots in the start, and Joseph Murdaca stopped 17 of the 18 shots he faced in the overtime victory.
Cliff Pu, Mitchell Stephens, and Janne Kuokkanen all scored a goal and an assist each; and Tyler Parsons stopped 58 of the 63 shots he faced in the loss.
The Otters will face the Owen Sound Attack, who dispatched the Soo Greyhounds in six games, in the Western Conference Finals.