February 12, 2017
With a nine-game winning streak coming into the matchup against Western Conference rival Windsor, the Erie Otters looked to push their streak to double digits with a victory over the 2017 Memorial Cup hosts. The Otters held off the surging Spitfires in the shootout, winning 5-4 after giving up a two goal lead in the third period.
Though Windsor pressured Erie offensively early in the first period, Erie’s Alex DeBrincat–just one night removed from a four point performance, in which he scored his 300th career OHL point–scored a one-timer off the feed from linemate Taylor Raddysh. It looked like the Otters would pull away with the score as they hammered Windsor goaltender Michael DiPietro, but the Spitfires came right back to tie the game: 2017 NHL Draft prospect Gabe Vilardi wristed a shot past Erie goalie Joe Murdaca on a broken play. With tempers running high, the Otters received the first power play of the game when Windsor’s Mikhail Sergachev went off for a cross-check; Erie’s Warren Foegele would cram the puck past the goalie on the resulting man-advantage, giving Erie the 2-1 lead. Erie closed out the period on the penalty kill, but they maintained their 2-1 lead heading into the second period.
The Otters wasted no time increasing their lead in the second: Erie’s Ivan Lodnia–eligible for the 2017 NHL Draft in Chicago–entered Windsor’s zone on a breakaway, and he made no mistake as he put away his 23rd goal of the season. But, just minutes later, Windsor’s big deadline acquisition Jeremy Bracco rushed Erie’s zone with speed and wristed a shot over Murdaca’s shoulder, bringing Windsor to within one goal of tying the Otters. The Otters remained determined, however, and Kyle Maksimovich beat DiPietro five-hole 14:11 into the second, giving the Erie the 4-2 lead. Windsor responded by increasing their physical play, including lots of extra-curricular activity behind the scenes and after whistles, but it wouldn’t change the score–the Otters skated off for the second intermission with the 4-2 lead.
Gabe Vilardi scored his second of the game off a broken play, making it 4-3 midway through the third period, and Jeremy Bracco scored with under three minutes left in the game to tie it at 4-4. Despite several chances both ways in overtime, neither team could score–necessitating a shootout to decide the contest. In the shootout, Dylan Strome and Ivan Lodnia each scored on DiPietro to secure the win for the Otters.
For the Otters, Ivan Lodnia scored a goal, an assist, and the winning shootout goal; Kyle Maksimovich scored a goal and an assist; and Dylan Strome scored in the shootout. Joe Murdaca, making his eighth straight start in Troy Timpano’s absence, made 20 saves on 24 shots in the victory.
Gabe Vilardi and Jeremy Bracco scored two goals for Windsor, and Montreal Canadiens prospect Mikhail Sergachev notched two assists. Michael DiPietro made 28 saves on 32 shots in the loss.
The Otters complete their homestand against the London Knights on Wednesday, February 15. The Otters and Knights were the first two teams to clinch playoff berths this season.