Erie, Pennsylvania – The situation was far from simple heading into Easter Sunday for the Erie Otters, with three playoff scenarios possible going into the final game of the Ontario Hockey League Regular Season. With a Sarnia win regardless of circumstances for Erie, the Sting would be in; with a win and Sarnia loss, Erie would clinch the final playoff spot; with a loss in regulation, Sarnia was in; with an OTL and Sarnia regulation loss OR an Erie win and Sarnia OTL, it would come down to a play-in game. All Erie could control going up against the top-team in the Ontario Hockey League, the Hamilton Bulldogs, was to get a win.
The Otters would come out of the gate with a 7-1 shots advantage, as they would hold Hamilton in their defensive end for the opening eight minutes. Unfortunately for Erie, goaltender Matteo Drobac would stop everything the Otters would throw his way; allowing for Hamilton’s depth-scoring team to come through. It would take just 2:18 for George Diaco (24,25) to grab back-to-back goals for the Bulldogs at 11:32 and 14:50 into the frame. A cherry on-top for the Bulldogs would come from Ryan Humphrey (24) with 1:37 remaining in the period. Hamilton would hold a 3-0 lead after 20, despite an 11-7 shot advantage for Erie.
Hamilton’s domination would continue immediately in the start of the second period, as it would take just :32 for Mark Duarte (11) would open the scoring to make it a 4-0 game. Two minutes later, Erie would finally crack the scoresheet as Captain Daniel D’Amato (24) would assure his name was on the board in his final regular season game. In the ensuing 9:04, Hamilton would add goals from Patrick Thomas (6), Logan Morrison (33), George Diaco (26), and Ryan Humphrey (25) to take an 8-1 lead. The bleeding would stop as Brett Bressette (21) would grab a goal for his third-straight game to make it 8-2 after 40. Erie would grab 17 shots in the period to lead 28-17 after two. Hamilton would add a pair in the third, and take a 10-2 win.
Due up next for the Erie Otters is the OHL Draft Lottery, as the team has a chance for the #1 overall pick in the Priority Selection Draft. The OHL Draft gets underway on Friday, April 29 through Saturday, April 30. Then for Erie, they look ahead to the NHL Draft and seeing who will represent the Otters at the next level – and then it’s off to preseason for 2022-23. A rollercoaster season comes to an end, as Erie looks forward to the future.