Entering Saturday’s game against the Erie Otters, Dylan Smoskowitz arguably has the hottest stick in the Ontario Hockey League.
Unfortunately for the Otters, Smoskowitz left Erie Insurance Arena the same way.
Smoskowitz, acquired from the Barrie Colts just after the beginning of the season, scored two goals, including the game winner with 2:20 left in regulation to hand the Mississauga Steelheads a 4-3 win in front of 2,483 fans. It was his seventh goal in five games since being acquired by the Steelheads.
Smoskowitz entered the game with seven points, second behind Riley Brace for the team lead.
His game winner came via a costly mistake in the neutral zone by the Otters, who were mostly outplayed from start to finish.
A miscommunication between Adam Pelech and J.P. Labardo at the red line sprung a streaking Smoskowitz who rifled a shot over the left shoulder of goaltender Oscar Dansk. That marker salvaged the two points for Mississauga as Erie nearly came back from a two-goal deficit.
Connor Crisp opened the scoring nearly midway through the first period with a spinning backhand past former Otter Tyson Teichmann, who was making his first start against the Otters after shutting them out in last season’s finale with the London Knights with 19 saves.
Crisp’s third of the season cooled down the Mississauga offense, which came out on fire with the first five shots of the game.
However, the Steelheads wouldn’t stay quiet for long.
Taking advantage of a mistake-prone Otters squad, the visitors scored the next three goals, two of which came from Smoskowitz and Spenser Cobbold to give the Steelheads a 3-1 advantage after 40 minutes of play. Josh Burnside scored in the first period to begin the barrage.
It was a tough two periods for the Otters. Mississauga beat them to every loose puck, finished every check and peppered Dansk with 26 shots, compared to Erie’s 18 through the first two frames.
But like a week ago against London on home ice, the Otters showed they still had some fight left in them.
With just over six minutes gone in the third, Troy Donnay let loose on a slap shot from the blue line and found the twine for his first of the season to bring some life back into the Otters and cut the deficit to 3-2.
Just over four minutes later, Adam Pelech, another defenseman, finished off a great individual effort by Connor McDavid, with a beautiful diving effort to get a stick on a loose puck that somehow found the back of the net for the equalizer.
That goal would also be the end of Teichmann’s night. On the goal, Pelech’s momentum carried him into Teichmann, causing a violent collision. Teichmann, playing for his fourth team in just over a year, was down on the ice for several minutes before he was helped off the ice and into the locker room with the aid of several trainers.
Teichmann was the odd man out a year ago in Erie amongst the goaltender situation, which led to his departure to London.
Spencer Martin would be called upon, and eventually earned the win, making the final five saves of the game. Teichmann ended his night with 21 saves on 24 shots.
Erie still had one last chance to force overtime. With 48 seconds left, Erie had a faceoff in the Mississauga zone. But the Steelheads won the draw, cleared the puck and kept the pressure on as Erie could never get the puck past the red line in the final 35 ticks of the game.
Dansk earned another hard-luck loss between the pipes, allowing four goals on 38 shots.
It was the third consecutive loss for the Otters, dropping the team to 2-5-1-1 on the season. Mississauga improved to 5-3-0-1.
Erie is off on Sunday before heading into a three-in-three weekend. The first of the three consecutive games comes Thursday with a trip to the WFCU Centre in Windsor.
The next home game comes Saturday against the Spitfires, with a scheduled start time of 7:00 p.m.