Friday Highlights: Sokolov’s hat-trick leads Wolves into playoffs
SUDBURY 5 – NORTH BAY 2
Minnesota Wild prospect Dmitry Sokolov (45, 46, 47) netted his third hat-trick of the season to lead the Sudbury Wolves past the visiting North Bay Battalion 5-2 to clinch an Eastern Conference playoff spot. The Wolves rebounded from a 4-0 loss in North Bay on Thursday as Jake McGrath made 27 saves while Patrick Sanvido (3) and Ryan Valentini (18) also scored as the Wolves outshot the Battalion 42-29. Adam Thilander (6) and Daniil Vertiy (14) had goals for North Bay as the Battalion still have a chance to tie the Niagara IceDogs in the Eastern Conference for a playoff tie-breaker. The idle Ottawa 67’s joined Sudbury in clinching a playoff spot on Friday.
ERIE 3 – KITCHENER 2 – OT
Alex DeBrincat’s 46th goal of the season 1:48 into overtime tied an Otters franchise record and pushed Erie past the Kitchener Rangers 3-2 on the road. The win gives the Otters their their fourth straight 100-point season as Taylor Raddysh (41) and Kyle Pettit (26) also scored goals. The Otters outshot Kitchener 30-15 as Kitchener’s Connor Bunnaman (36, 37) scored twice, tying the game at two with 1:27 remaining in the third period. St. Louis Blues prospect Luke Opilka made 27 saves in goal for the Rangers. The Otters won four of their six meetings with Kitchener this season and go for their fourth straight 50-win season on Saturday against Guelph.
KINGSTON 5 – HAMILTON 3
The battle for home ice advantage is still on as the Kingston Frontenacs had two goals and an assist from Ted Nichol (16, 17) in a 5-3 win over the visiting Hamilton Bulldogs. Jason Robertson (40) continued his tear across OHL scoresheets, joining Linus Nyman (24) in recording a goal and three assists while veteran captain Stephen Desrocher had a goal and an assist. Kingston outshot Hamilton 39-24, pulling within one point of the Bulldogs with a game in hand. Montreal Canadiens prospect Will Bitten (22, 23) and Matt Luff (24) had goals for the Bulldogs as they’ve now lost seven of their past 10 contests.
MISSISSAUGA 4 – BARRIE 2
New Jersey Devils prospect Michael McLeod (24, 25) opened the scoring with a pair of goals and the Mississauga Steelheads never looked back, winning for the ninth time in the past 10 games by defeating the visiting Barrie Colts 4-2. Owen Tippett (44) and Matthew Titus (2) also scored for the Trout as they outshot the Colts 35-21. Spencer Watson and Trent Fox both chipped in with two assists while Barrie goals came from Anthony Stefano (22) and Zach Magwood (19). The Steelheads now wait for their first round playoff opponent to emerge from a pool of Ottawa, Sudbury or Niagara.
LONDON 7 – FLINT 3
Anaheim Ducks prospect Max Jones (15, 16) scored a pair of goals including one of the highlight reel variety as the London Knights extinguished the visiting Flint Firebirds 7-3. Adrian Carbonara (12) had a goal and two assists while Cliff Pu registered three helpers and had a dominant night in the faceoff circle. Alex Formenton (16), Janne Kuokkanen (26), Liam Foudy (9) and Dante Salituro (11) also got in on the scoring for London while Tyler Parsons made 37 saves. Fedor Gordeev (4), Everett Clark (16) and Alex Peters (10) provided Flint goals as the Firebirds dropped their fifth straight decision. The Knights earn their third straight win and trail third place Owen Sound by one point in the Western Conference.
SAULT STE. MARIE 3 – SAGINAW 1
Brady Gilmour (26) opened the scoring six seconds into the third period for Saginaw but the Soo Greyhounds came sprinting back to score three times and take a 3-1 win over the visiting Spirit. Bobby MacIntyre (28), Jack Kopacka (30) and Tim Gettinger (31) all lit the lamp against Saginaw rookie Brendan Bonello who earned first star honours with a 34-save performance in the loss. Greyhounds rookie Matthew Villalta keeps the wins rolling, earning his 25th of the season with a 27-save effort. The Hounds outshot the Spirit 37-28 and wrapped up the season series having won six of their eight encounters with Saginaw this season. The Greyhounds will face the Flint Firebirds in the first round of the OHL Playoffs beginning Thursday March 23 on home ice.
GUELPH 4 – SARNIA 2
James McEwan (18) scored the game winner 8:25 into the third period and rookie rearguard Ryan Merkley recorded a pair of assists as the Guelph Storm doubled up the Sarnia Sting 4-2 on home ice. Isaac Ratcliffe (27), Albert Michnac (14) and Garrett McFadden (12) also had goals while Liam Herbst made 27 saves as the Storm outshot the Sting 39-29. Philadelphia Flyers prospect Anthony Salinitri (27, 28) provided both Sarnia goals in the loss while Justin Fazio made 35 saves.