Thursday Highlights: Steelheads step up in Game 1
MISSISSAUGA 5 – PETERBOROUGH 3 – MISS leads series 1-0
Los Angeles Kings prospect Spencer Watson (11, 12) extended his current point streak to nine games, scoring twice while netting the game winner with 7:37 remaining in the third period as the Mississauga Steelheads opened the Eastern Conference Final with a 5-3 Game 1 victory in Peterborough.
New Jersey Devils first round pick Michael McLeod (7) registered a goal and three assists while brother Ryan McLeod (2) and 2017 NHL Draft prospect Owen Tippett (5) also scored for the Steelheads.
The Trout improve to 7-0 on the road in the OHL Playoffs, halting Peterborough’s perfect run at eight games.
“The boys are playing really well,” said Steelheads head coach James Richmond. “It doesn’t seem to matter where they’re playing, they’re ready to play. We matched their energy early and did what we needed to do to come out on top tonight.”
Mississauga outshot Peterborough 32-30 but counted on some timely saves from goaltender Matthew Mancina against his former club to overcome penalty problems, holding the Petes to 1-for-7 on the man advantage.
“I think we got off track with a couple of bad, undisciplined penalties,” Richmond noted. “We need to clean up that along with our play in the neutral zone heading into Game 2.”
Tippett opened the scoring with a wrister off the rush 12:57 into the first period, beating Dylan Wells over the shoulder to bring a hush over the 2,957 at the Peterborough Memorial Centre.
Steven Lorentz (9) would give the Petes life with the ice still drying to start the second frame. The Carolina Hurricanes prospect banged in a quick release off a one-timer 2:03 into the fresh period.
Nikita Korostelev (3), who set up Lorentz’ goal earlier in the second, would give the Petes their first lead 12:05 into the period as he walked in off the point on a two-man advantage to pick a corner past Mancina’s glove side.
Mississauga would pull ahead in the latter half of the second as Watson pulled up upon entering the Peterborough zone to snap a quick release over the shoulder of a partially screened Wells at 14:08.
Ryan MacLeod redirected a Vili Saarijarvi point shot past Wells with 53 seconds left in the second to give the Trout a 3-2 lead to start the third.
Rookie sensation Semyon Der-Arguchintsev (3) stretched his current point streak to five games just over the midway point of the third, cleaning up the garbage in the slot after linemate Lorentz had a pair of bang-bang chances from close quarters.
Tied at three, Watson’s winner would come just 1:04 later as the right-handed shot deked out a dark jersey before prompting Wells to swipe and miss on a poke-check attempt, leaving himself out of position as Watson tucked the puck over the goal line.
Michael McLeod took advantage of a Peterborough turnover inside the defensive blue line just 1:19 later, beating Wells over the blocker to give the Steelheads the 5-3 decision.
“I just think it comes down to raising your game,” said Spencer Watson post-game. “As a group we all wanted to raise our game throughout the playoffs and I think we came together to do that tonight.”
Watson’s two goals increase his OHL Playoff lead to 12 in as many games. His 19 points (12-7–19) place him third in the league while teammate Michael McLeod sits one point behind Erie’s Alex DeBrincat (6-16–22) for second with 21 (7-14–21).
Peterborough defenceman Matthew Timms missed a sixth consecutive game to an injury suffered in the Petes’ first round series with the Niagara IceDogs while Mississauga rookie Jacob Ingham returned to the lineup in a backup role after missing the Steelheads’ second round series against Oshawa to illness.
The Petes dominated the faceoff circle in the loss, going 64 percent at the dot highlighted by a 11-for-15 performance from Tampa Bay Lightning prospect Chris Paquette.
The Petes and Steelheads are off on Friday and meet again in Game 2 on Saturday night at 7:05pm back in Peterborough.
POST-GAME PRESS CONFERENCE: