By: Chris Crawford – Ottawa67s.com
Photo: Robert Lefebvre – IceLevel Photography
The Ottawa 67’s showed the same blue collar effort they’ve shown all year in what proved to be their final game of the season dropping a 5-2 decision to Niagara advancing the IceDogs through to OHL’s Eastern Conference semifinals with a 4-1 series win.
“We fought to the end and I’m really proud of our guys. We just ran out of a little steam,” said head coach and GM Jeff Brown. “These games were priceless for them [rookies Keating and Hoefenmayer]. Next year their going to have so much more confidence come playoff time. At the end of the day, I couldn’t be prouder of all our guys, they battled, worked and didn’t quit right to the end.”
The IceDogs opened the scoring midway through the opening period capitalizing on the powerplay. Goaltender Leo Lazarev was the story of the opening period turning aside 12 of the 13 shots he faced.
Niagara padded their lead less than three minutes into the third period, but once again Lazarev stole the show and had 23 saves on 25 shots through two periods of play.
Austen Keating gave the 67’s a boosting heading into the second intermission scoring his first career playoff goal on a breakaway with three seconds remaining in the period.
Niagara would restore their two-goal lead early in the third period. Their 3-1 lead would hold up until Evan de Hann’s notched his first of the playoff to give the 67’s life with less than five minutes remaining.
The IceDogs would again restore their two-goal advantage less than two-minutes later on Pavel Jenys fifth of the series. Josh Ho-Sang hit the empty net in the final minute to ice the 5-2 win and the 4-1 series victory.
Captain Jacob Middleton felt his team played really well and was proud of the team’s effort level this series.
“This whole series we have played exceptionally well, which is why it is so disheartening for us to get this loss in 5 games. We battled hard this whole series and I can’t be more proud of the guys” he said.
Next season will begin quickly for the Ottawa 67’s starting with the OHL Priority Selection Draft on April 9.
GAME SUMMARY – CLICK HERE
Ottawa 67’s 2 , Niagara IceDogs 5 (Meridan Centre)
67’s goals: Austen Keating (1), Evan de Haan (1)
IceDogs goals: Brendan Perlini (3), Ryan Mantha (1), Kyle Langdon (1), Pavel Jenys (5), Josh Ho-Sang (2)
Goaltenders: 67’s: Leo Lazarev (L, 1-4, 33 shots, 29 saves) | IceDogs: Alex Nedeljkovic (W, 4-1, 24 shots, 22 saves)
Power Play: 67’s: 0/6 Ice Dogs: 1/5
Shots on goal: 67’s: 24 | Ice Dogs: 34