Erie, Pennsylvania – Kyen Sopa earned a goal and an assist in his Erie debut as the Erie Otters defeated the Niagara IceDogs 4-2 on Cancer Awareness Night presented by UPMC at the Erie Insurance Arena Saturday night.
Trade acquisition Kyen Sopa made an immediate impact as an Otter by setting up Hayden Fowler just two minutes and 20 seconds into the game, prompting 6,276 fans to rise to their feet. Minutes later, Brendan Sellan fired a puck off the post for what was nearly a second Erie goal. With time winding down in the first, Maxim Golod showcased the defensive element of his game on a back-check that negated a Niagara breakaway opportunity and helped secure Erie’s 1-0 lead after one period of play.
Erie continued to pressure after the intermission and Golod hit the crossbar early in the second period. An Otters penalty led to action at the other end of the ice where Aidan Campbell came up with quality, back-to-back saves on the penalty kill. Just past the halfway mark of the game, Austen Swankler nearly scored with a deflection in front of the net. With less than five minutes remaining in the period, Niagara goaltender Andrew MacLean made a series of stops on sustained Erie pressure. The Otters went into the second intermission with a 20-8 shot advantage and a 1-0 lead on the scoreboard.
Former Otter Ivan Lodnia, who was recently named the Niagara captain, tied the game just 44 seconds into the third period. Attempting to regain the lead for Erie, Chad Yetman found the crossbar five minutes into the frame. Brendan Kischnick stopped a breakaway opportunity for Niagara and Jamie Drysdale scored a powerplay goal on the next play, assisted by Fowler to give the Otters a 2-1 lead. Moments later, Kurtis Henry stopped a puck from crossing the goal line as it trickled behind Campbell. Then, 88 seconds after the go-ahead Erie goal, Golod tipped in a shot off the stick of Yetman, and Drysdale recorded an assist on the tally which made the score 3-1 with 10:32 remaining in the third. AJ Cook deflected in a puck at the 13:45 mark to pull to within one of Erie’s lead. With 63 seconds remaining in the game, Yetman and Fowler fed the puck to Sopa, who secured the win for Erie with an empty net goal, his first goal as an Otter.
Erie is back in action Sunday, January 12, when the Otters host the Sarnia Sting for a 2:00p.m. matinee at the Erie Insurance Arena.
Single game tickets for the 2019-20 season are on sale now. Erie Otters season tickets and flex packages are also available and can be purchased in person at the Erie Otters front office located at 201 E. 8th Street in Erie, or by calling 814-455-7779. For the latest Otters news, visit www.ottershockey.com, or follow the team on Facebook (www.facebook.com/erieottershockey), Twitter (@ErieOtters) and Instagram (@ErieOtters).