Erie Otters Goaltender Post-Game
OHL Record Holder Alex DeBrincat Post-Game
24 hours after beating the last place Guelph Storm 8-2 at Budweiser Gardens, the London Knights (42-13-3-4) went back to work against the first place Erie Otters (46-14-2-1). After splitting last year’s regular season series 3-3, the Otters came in with the upper hand and a 3-1 record thus far on the year against the Knights coming into Friday night. Still the home team was sitting just 4 points back of Erie for the top spot in the Western Conference and 1 point back of the second place Sault Ste. Marie Greyhounds, making this a pivotal late season game. Most eyes in the hockey world however were focused on the Farmington Hills, Michigan native Alex DeBrincat. Coming into his 59th game of the season with 120 points (61G/59A) and riding an 18-game goal streak. Just one game shy of Mike Ricci’s OHL record set with the Peterborough Pete’s in the 1988-89 season. Just another element of spice to what is always a tasty dish of hockey when these two teams go at it, the game most certainly didn’t disappoint.
Out of the gate it was clear the Erie Otters were determined to limit the Knights speed and breakout potential. 5:46 into the game though Darren Raddysh would take a delay of game penalty for dumping the puck over the glass in his defensive zone and the Knights would make him pay for his mistake. Just 39 seconds into the powerplay Robert Thomas would slide it to Olli Juolevi, who would make an incredible pass through the penalty killers’ formation to Cliff Pu. The Buffalo Sabres prospect would make no mistake ripping it past the sprawling Troy Timpano’s glove side for his 35th tally of the year. The rest of the period turned into a bit of goalie showcase between Troy Timpano (32-7-0-0 2.47GAA .900SV%) and Tyler Parsons (19-5-2-3 2.36GAA .922SV%). The former Sudbury Wolves product from Pickering, Ontario Timpano would deny Robert Thomas with the glove on a 2 on 1 one-timer and then rob Cliff Pu of his second of the game late in the period. Parsons looked good, but not unbeatable as the Otters managed to get the puck behind him twice in the period only to have some diving defenders sweep it off the goal line or to have it trickle wide of the 4x6. The home crowd was feeling good after 20 though with a 1-0 lead and their team out shooting the visitors 15-7.
In a flip of the script from the first period, 8:59 into the second period Knights defensemen Brandon Crawley (leading the team in penalty minutes coming into the game with 104) would dump the puck into the crowd and receive a delay of game penalty. An efficient 12 seconds into the opportunity, Tampa Bay Lighting 2nd round pick Taylor Raddysh would step into one and put in behind a screened Parsons to tie the game 1-1. Dylan Strome and his brother Darren would pick up assists on Taylor’s 39th goal in his 54th game of the season. 16 seconds later, the Knight would go back on the powerplay looking to restore their one goal lead. Instead, Dylan Strome would find Ivan Lodnia out of the penalty box putting him on a breakaway, Parsons would deny the first chance, but Warren Foegele would follow up the play and score his 25th of the year to give the Otters the lead for the first time on Friday night. Not a bad time for the 2014 Carolina draft pick to score with Hurricanes GM and 2x Stanley Cup Champion Ron Francis in attendance looking on (Janne Kuokkanen of the Knights the other Carolina prospect playing in the game). A couple minutes later Olli Joulevi would get a tripping penalty for hauling down Alex DeBrincat, as he was on his way to the London net with a scoring chance. DeBrincat was slow to get up, but did skate back to his bench under his own power. His teammates rewarded him by making it a 3-1 game 32 seconds into the powerplay with Owen Headwick blasting his 4th of the season through a wall of traffic on Parsons at the 13:58 mark. Ivan Lodnia would pick up his second assist on the evening and Kyle Maksimovich wearing a nameless #8 jersey would pick up a point as well on the play. The Knights appeared a bit frustrated by the end of the period, being out shot 15-7 and outscored 3-0 in the stanza. With the shots even 22-22 and the score 3-1 for Erie, the crowd was a lot more quiet during the 2nd intermission.
Otters’ goalie Timpano would continue to play huge for his boys in the 3rd period robbing Owen MacDonald of his 17th goal of the year and followed that up by flashing the glove on a wicked backhand shot by the Knights captain JJ Piccinich moments later. Biggest issue for London was their inability to generate and sustained pressure in Erie’s end as the game wore on, being out shot 7-2 10 minutes into the final period. As the clock wound down against London, more and more attention was placed on Alex DeBrincat chasing down OHL history. With Parsons on the bench and the extra attacker on the ice, DeBrincat had a good 2+ minute shift with his team trying to feed him the puck. Nearing the last minute of play Taylor Raddysh could of elected to shoot on the empty cage to ice the game, for his second goal of the night, but slowed down instead crossing the London blueline and fed a pass over to DeBrincat. Was this the moment? No, his shot deflected wide of the yawning Knights net. However, with 36 seconds left in the game he would create a turnover and bury his 62nd goal to caption history, tying Mike Ricci’s 28 year old OHL record for 19 games in a row registering a goal. After being out shot by 8 (15-7) after 20, Erie skated away with the win out shooting London by 8 (33-25).
With the 4-1 victory, the Erie Otters maintained their 3 point lead over the Greyhounds (who beat Kitchener 6-1) and extend it to a 6 point lead over the Knights for top spot in the Western Conference with the playoffs just a handful of games away. Alex DeBrincat will now get the chance Sunday back home in Erie to break the OHL record for most consecutive games with a goal as he’ll ironically the Peterborough Petes the team in which Mike Ricci set the record with in the 1988-89 season. For the London Knights they’ll head to Guelph on Sunday after a day of rest to take on the Storm with a 2pm puck drop at the Sleeman Centre. A good opponent to rebound on from a loss, considering the Knights have yet to lose to Guelph so far this season in five games.