By: Chris Crawford – Ottawa67s.com
Photo: Robert Lefebvre – IceLevel Photography
It really was home sweet home for the Ottawa 67’s on Monday afternoon as the Barber Poles picked up a crucial win in Game 3 of their OHL playoff series, downing the Niagara IceDogs 4-2 to pull to within one win of evening the series.
After a pair of hard-nosed efforts fell just short in the first two games of the series on the road, a crowd of 4,361 gave the 67’s the jolt of energy they were looking for on Easter Monday. Some of those fans hadn’t even gotten to their seats yet when forward Artur Tyanulin gave Ottawa the lead just 1:06 into the first period. Nathan Todd, coming into Monday’s tilt with five points in his first two games of the series, extended Ottawa’s lead to 2-0 just over five minutes later to give the home side a healthy lead at the intermission.
Things continued to click for Ottawa in the second period as Todd beat Niagara goalie Alex Nedeljkovic for his second goal and third point of the afternoon. Tyanulin, with a goal and two assists, and Travis Barron, with three assists, also had three-point games.
67’s head coach and GM Jeff Brown said he liked the way his team fought for the win.
“I thought our guys battled and that’s the important thing, they played hard for one another,” said Brown, who had plenty of praise for Todd’s play of late, including Monday.
“He’s just a hockey player, he’s just a fun guy to coach because he just gets it,” Brown said. “There’s guys that play hockey and then there are hockey players and he’s a hockey player.”
Todd was quick to deflect some of that praise towards his teammates.
“It feels really good, my line’s going, the whole team’s going and we’re playing with a lot of energy,” he said. “It was a huge win. They’re up two, we had to win this one. We said in the room, we’re playing in front of a home crowd and we’ve got to take it to them.”
Though Pavel Jenys would beat 67’s goalie Leo Lazarev to pull the IceDogs to within two just after the 15-minute mark of the second, towering Ottawa defenceman Stepan Falkovsky blasted home his first OHL playoff game to restore the three-goal advantage.
Vince Dunn scored for the IceDogs early in the third but Lazarev, who finished with 26 saves, and the rest of the 67’s stymied them the rest of the way. Nedeljkovic stopped 12 of the 16 shots he faced.
Head coach and GM Jeff Brown was impressed with the overall team play today, especially his goaltender Leo Lazarev and Captain Jacob Middleton .
“He (Lazarev) won us the game, he was what you need in the playoffs and he earned the start today. Middleton is our MVP, he plays so much and plays against everyone’s best players, he’s been great.”
The 67’s, who now trail the best-of-seven series 2-1, can even things up when they host Niagara on Wednesday for Game 4 at TD Plans. Puck drop is at 7 p.m. Before the game, fans are invited to attend the unveiling of the new Ottawa Fury FC kit for the upcoming NASL season at 5:30 p.m. on the arena concourse. Ticket are available by clicking here, calling 613-299-2811 x1, or in person at the TD Place Box Office.
Youth hockey players in the Ottawa-Gatineau region can obtain free tickets to any 67’s regular-season home game through the 67’s Prospects program. Visit the 67’s Prospects website for details, or call 613-232-6767, x1.
GAME SUMMARY – http://new.ontariohockeyleague.com/gamecentre/21479/boxscore
Ottawa 67’s 4 , Niagara IceDogs 2 (Arena at TD Place)
67’s goals: Artur Tyanulin (1), Nathan Todd (2), Nathan Todd (3), Stepan Falkovsky (1)
IceDogs goals: Pavel Jenys (3), Vince Dunn (2)
Goaltenders: 67’s: Leo Lazarev (W, 1-2, 28 shots, 26 saves) | IceDogs: Alex Nedeljkovic (L, 2-1, 16 shots, 12 saves)
Power Play: 67’s: 0/2 | IceDogs: 2/6
Shots on goal: 67’s: 16 | IceDogs: 28
Upcoming 67’s games:
Game 4, Wed, Mar 30 at Ottawa – 7:00 p.m. (Tickets – Click Here)
Game 5, Fri, Apr 1 at Niagara – 7:00 p.m.*
Game 6, Sat, Apr 2 at Ottawa – 7:00 p.m.*
Game 7, Tues, Apr 5 at Niagara – 7:00 p.m.*