Sunday Highlights: Otters close out memorable 2017 with a win
ERIE 3 – KINGSTON 2
Daniel Murphy made 33 saves for his first OHL victory as the defending champion Erie Otters closed out a memorable 2017 in the win column, defeating the Kingston Frontenacs 3-2 on home ice. Maxim Golod (6), Alex Gritz (10) and Gera Poddubnyi (10) all had goals as the Otters strung together consecutive home wins for the first time since October. Nathan Dunkley (13) and Matt Hotchkiss (11) provided Kingston goals as the Fronts return home winless after stops in Hamilton and Erie. The Otters pull to within four points of Owen Sound in the Midwest Division, improving to 12-19-5-1 while Kingston remains 10 points back of first place Hamilton in the East Division, falling to 18-12-3-3.
LONDON 4 – SARNIA 2
Buffalo Sabres prospect Cliff Pu (15, 16) scored the game winner with 50 seconds left in the third period before adding an empty netter as the London Knights doubled up the Sarnia Sting 4-2 on the road. The 16th time the two clubs have played a New Year’s home-and-home, the Knights prevailed in the opener as Harrison Cottam (2) and Sam Miletic (12) also scored while netminder Jordan Kooy made 33 saves in his first start since Oct. 15th. Draft eligible rearguard Evan Bouchard recorded three assists in the win as the Knights were outshot 35-30. Anthony Salinitri (16) and Jordan Ernst (19) scored Sarnia goals as the Sting suffered their third straight loss, falling to 25-10-2-0. The Knights have won three of their past four games, improving to 19-14-2-1, seven points back of first place Kitchener in the Midwest Division.
BARRIE 4 – OWEN SOUND 1
The Owen Sound Attack threw everything they could at Leo Lazarev, but the Barrie Colts netminder turned in one of the best performances of his OHL career, stopping 48 shots in a 4-1 home ice win. Aidan Brown (2, 3) had the first multi-goal outing of his OHL career while Joey Keane (6) had a goal and an assist and Kyle Heitzner (4) also tallied. The Colts were outshot 49-29, but captured their sixth straight win behind Lazarev’s star performance. Vegas Golden Knights prospect Nick Suzuki (18) scored the lone Owen Sound goal as the Attack suffered their sixth straight loss, falling to 14-15-1-5. The 23-10-2-1 Colts now hold a six-point lead atop the Central Division.
SUDBURY 3 – GUELPH 2
The Sudbury Wolves closed out 2017 with a win, defeating the visiting Guelph Storm 3-2 as goaltender Jake McGrath turned in a 31-save performance. Kirill Nizhnikov (7) found the back of the net, giving him points in seven of eight games since joining Sudbury. Drake Pilon (5) and Shane Bulitka (5) also lit the lamp as the Wolves won despite being outshot 33-21. Guelph went 2-for-8 on the power play in the loss as Nate Schnarr (10) and Tag Bertuzzi (3) capitalized while Ryan Merkley and Garrett McFadden had two assists each. The Wolves climb to 11-21-5-0 while Guelph drops to 18-14-1-3, one point back of second place London in the Midwest Division.
SAGINAW 4 – WINDSOR 2
The Saginaw Spirit surge into 2018 with wins in seven of their past 10 after defeating the Windsor Spitfires 4-2 on the road Sunday afternoon. Mason Kohn (8, 9) scored twice while veteran rearguard Marcus Crawford collected four assists as the Spirit went 2-for-5 on the power play. Damien Giroux (14) and Keaton Middleton (3) also put pucks past Windsor’s Michael DiPietro while defenceman Caleb Everett had a pair of assists. Windsor rookie Jordan Frasca (1) scored his first OHL goal while Russian blueliner Lev Starikov (3) also managed to solve Saginaw’s Evan Cormier. The Spirit are 19-13-3-0 on the year, pulling into a third place tie with Windsor in the West Division. The Spits now sit at 19-13-2-1.
NIAGARA 7 – HAMILTON 3
The Niagara IceDogs rang in the New Year with an offensive eruption, striking for seven goals against the East Division-leading Hamilton Bulldogs on Sunday. Seven different players found the back of the net as Kyle Langdon recorded three assists in a 7-3 win on home ice. Akil Thomas (10), Johnny Corneil (10), Ben Jones (14), Philip Tomasino (4), Kirill Maksimov (23), Danial Singer (16) and Matthew Philip (8) all gave the St. Catharines faithful something to cheer about with goals while defenceman Liam Ham had two assists and Stephen Dhillon made 35 saves in goal. The IceDogs brought Hamilton’s seven game winning streak to an end, doing so despite being outshot 38-31. Will Bitten (12), Nicholas Caamano (17) and Matthew Strome (21) provided Bulldogs goals as Hamilton falls to 23-8-3-3. The IceDogs are heating up with wins in three straight, improving to 19-11-3-2, six points back of first place Barrie in the Central.
NORTH BAY 8 – MISSISSAUGA 3
It was a Battalion barrage on Sunday afternoon in North Bay as the Troops unloaded for eight goals on 31 shots. The Battalion defeated the visiting Mississauga Steelheads 8-3 as Brad Chenier (9, 10), Andy Baker (7) and Brett McKenzie all had four-point outings while Luke Burghardt (14, 15) recorded three points. Luke Moncada (5), Adam McMaster (3) and Cam Dineen (11) also scored goals while Christian Propp made 38 saves in goal. North Bay climbs two points ahead of Mississauga in the Central Division as the Steelheads fall to 14-22-0-1. Ryan McLeod (10), Cole Schwindt (8) and Owen Tippett (10) scored goals for the Fish in the loss. North Bay improves to 13-18-5-0.