Otters 6, Sea Dogs 3
After losing to host team Windsor in their third game, the Erie Otters were forced to face the Saint John Sea Dogs in a semi-final elimination game with a trip to the championship on the line. It was a tie-game heading into the third period, but early goals from Dylan Strome and Gera Poddubnyi secured a 6-3 victory for Erie.
Though Saint John was blown out 12-5 by the Otters on Monday night, the Sea Dogs came out fighting in the first period of the Friday night matchup, forcing the Otters to dump pucks instead of entering the offensive zone with speed. The Otters struck first, however, halfway through the period: Darren Raddysh, hustling hard, beat the icing call, regained control of the puck, and flipped it over the shoulder of Saint John goaltender Callum Booth. Raddysh's goal put the Otters up 1-0 early in the game, but Joe Veleno-a projected top pick in the 2018 NHL Entry Draft-was able to tie it just minutes later; he batted a floating puck past Erie goalie Troy Timpano to make it 1-1 entering the second period.
With their offense rolling and the game opening up in the second period, Erie continued their onslaught on the Sea Dogs' net; they would out-shoot Saint John 17-4 through the period. It was Taylor Raddysh who broke the tie at the game's halfway mark, firing a one-timer past Booth off the feed from Anthony Cirelli to make it 2-1. Saint John followed this up with several penalties, but the Otters were unable to convert on the subsequent power play opportunities. Then, Taylor Raddysh scored again on an odd-man rush-but, after a conference between the officials, it was determined that-though the whistle did not blow the play dead when Raddysh touched the puck-Erie had taken a penalty previous to the goal. It was disallowed, the Sea Dogs headed to the power play, and Julien Gauthier scored just seconds into the man-advantage. Erie and Saint John skated off for the second intermission tied at two.
Erie captain Dylan Strome had been threatening to score since the beginning of the game-he managed to put the puck in the back of the net minutes into the third period, giving the Otters the 3-2 lead. Then, just a minute later, Erie's Ivan Lodnia-eligible for the 2017 NHL Entry Draft-retrieved the puck near Saint John's net, out-waited the back-checkers, and sent a perfect pass to Gera Poddubnyi, who snapped the shot through Booth for the two-goal lead. Taylor Raddysh scored his second of the game on the back of an intelligent play by Cirelli, though Julien Gauthier would crash the net later to pull the Sea Dogs within two. Erie's Warren Foegele found the net with Saint John's goalie pulled, however, to secure Erie's 6-3 win.
Taylor Raddysh scored twice for the Otters; Alex DeBrincat notched three assists; Anthony Cirelli had two assists; and Warren Foegele and Darren Raddysh each had a goal and an assist. Gera Poddubnyi scored the game-winning goal, while Troy Timpano saved 20 of the 23 shots he faced.
Julien Gauthier scored a goal and added two assists for Saint John, a three point night, and Callum Booth made 31 saves on 36 shots.
The Erie Otters head to their first Memorial Cup Final berth in franchise history on Sunday, May 28, where they'll face host team Windsor in an OHL Western Conference match-up.
For more information on the Erie Otters, contact Aaron Cooney at firstname.lastname@example.org
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