Otters Play Near-Perfect Road Game, Penalty Kill Shines in 4-1 Road Win
St. Catharine's, Ontario - One last road game until the holiday break would take the Erie Otters to their closest geographic foe, the Niagara IceDogs. Despite last-place status in the Eastern Conference, Erie's foes in the Niagara region have had a tremendous start to the month of December, downing the #1 Kitchener Rangers and a top-five Peterborough team in back-to-back games. Moreover for the IceDogs, they were able to come away with a regulation victory over the Otters in the last meeting between the two. With former IceDogs' captain Pano Fimis coming in as COGECO Player of the Week and named to the CHL Team of the Week, the onus was on the second-year Otter to continue his success against Niagara.
Going against the top-goaltender in the league in the last week - Marcus Vandenberg - the Erie Otters would be unable to find the back of the net despite eight first period shots. Erie would return the favor from goaltender Ben Gaudreau, who would stop all seven shots he faced in the first period. Either team would have an opportunity on the man-advantage, but be unable to convert. Erie would lead in shots 8-7, but a scoreless affair would hold through 20.
After an absent first period, scoring would finally find its way to the ice in period two - and in a big way for the Erie Otters. Seven minutes into the second period, Brett Bressette (5, PPG) would score in his second-straight game, putting the Otters on the board. 4:15 later, Kevin He (12) would knot things up after a goal from below the hashmarks on one knee. From there, Erie would takeover to close the frame. Bruce McDonald (6) would be first up, with a moving shot that would beat Vandenberg on the low side. This goal would give Pano Fimis his second point of the night. Scoring in the second would conclude on another man-advantage, as Ondrej Molnar (9, PPG), would give the Otters their first multi-goal lead of the contest. After 40, Erie would outshoot the IceDogs 18-14, and hold a 3-1 lead.
The third period would finish out everything the Otters did right in the prior period, despite an early penalty. This penalty kill would prove to be fortuitous for Erie, as Malcolm Spence's individual effort would lead to Carey Terrance (21, SHG) earning his fourth shorthanded goal of the year. With a 4-1 lead, it would just be about closing out the game for the Otters - and they would do it with the best of them. Erie would outshoot Niagara 10-8 in the final stretch, and take care of business for a big road win, and their second-straight. Ben Gaudreau would be terrific in net with a 21/22 night, and the Otters penalty kill would shine at 3/3 with a shorthanded goal. Erie returns to above .500 at 12-11-4.
The Otters will have a rest day on Friday, tuning up for just their second meeting of the season against Midwest Division foe Guelph on Saturday night. Erie fell 8-0 to the Storm in the only meeting of the season, back on October 6. Erie will celebrate its first-ever Native Heritage Night on Saturday, honoring indigenous peoples in the United States and Canada with specialty warm-up jerseys and a night of inclusive education and fun. The first 1500 fans in attendance will receive a free Carey Terrance Bobblehead (pres. by Rebich Investments).
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Ontario Hockey League Stories from December 7, 2023
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