(by Mario Bruni, Photo: James ‘Jeep’ DiCioccio / Erie Otters)
Erie, Pennsylvania – Victory Tuesday! The Erie Otters went into the long week of play still searching for their first win of 2023 and first home victory since December 3. As the weekend would close, Erie would do just that.
The week would start for the boys in Navy and Gold against the Owen Sound Attack on Thursday night. Erie would fall early, down 4-0 to end the first period. The Otters would come back to tie the game at four and then once again in the final minutes of the period to force overtime. Overtime would not go the Otters way, falling to the Attack 6-5. Erie was moving in the right direction as they would receive their first point since December 30th after defeating the Niagara IceDogs 4-3.
The team would resume their home weekend against the Oshawa Generals. Erie would contest with the Generals but would fall short losing 4-1.
With Erie still searching for their first win of the year and first win for interim coaches Vince Laise and Wes Wolfe. Erie would only have to look at their next game against the Mississauga Steelheads to accomplish those goals. Erie would beat the Steelheads 2-1 and the team looks to build on a weekend that saw a competitive Otters team.
The Otters wanted the weekend to be a success, and were able to take 3/6 points. With half of the possible points taken, here’s the three stars who stood out.
THIRD STAR – KYLE DOWNEY
The man between the posts Monday, Kyle Downey, starts off our three stars of the week. #80 would have the nod on the weekend wrap-up Monday and give the team a sensational game as part of the huge victory. The 20/21 save night from Downey wasn’t the only spectacular stat from him. Downs would make a huge save on a 2-on-1 breakaway early in the second period to keep Erie in front.
Look for #80 to continue to get his games in and give the team a fighting chance every night in net – especially with a return to Windsor on Thursday.
SECOND STAR – BRUCE McDONALD
A three-point weekend (2G+1A) for Bruce McDonald, the rookie from Ottawa. McDonald would get his first goal on home ice of his career during Saturday’s game against Oshawa. A feed from Kaleb Smith and Taeo Artichuk would allow for #92 to sneak it in off a rebound.
The tag-team duo of McDonald and Taeo Artichuk would help each other with an assist and goal in Mondays win against the Steelheads.
“Bruuuccceee” has had his moments in his first year in Erie and this weekend is just another part of his terrific first season.
FIRST STAR – TAEO ARTICHUK
Taeo Artichuk’s New Year’s resolution? Apparently, scoring a bunch of points! A weekend full of points would come for the Ajax, ONT native, as he would see four (2G+2A) in the three home games.
Artichuk would score the first of four unanswered in the comeback against the Attack on Thursday, scoring on a pass off the board from captain Cameron Morton. On Saturday, Artichuk would help Bruce McDonald score Erie’s lone goal against the Generals.
Taeo would be one of the heroes – and eventual First Star – in Monday’s victory. He would open scoring halfway into the game, firing the puck in off a pass from McDonald’s stick. #6 would return the favor as he would help McDonald score the eventual game-winning goal. Three goals in 10 days for the Sophomore Otter has the playmaking forward ready for more.
The Erie Otters hit the road for four games, starting with a weekend road trip in Windsor (Thursday), Sarnia (Friday), and Flint (Sunday). Erie will close out the bus trips with a Thursday night in Niagara, before returning home for UPMC Health Plan Member Appreciation Weekend on Saturday, January 28 (Hockey Fights Cancer) and Sunday, January 29 (Sunday Family Funday).