Windsor was looking for a second straight victory. Niagara was looking to snap a four-game losing streak. Only one could happen. And it did not favour the Spitfires. The Ice Dogs clawed back from a two-goal deficit and won 4-3 in a shootout at the WFCU Centre.
Shortly past the midway point of the opening period, Niagara got on the board first. Dougie Hamilton’s initial shot was saved, but Mitchell Theoret picked up the loose puck off the rebound and shot it past young goalie Jordan DeKort. The Spits had a couple of chances, including a breakaway, but their penalty problems recurred. Fortunately for the hometown boys, and the 5543 fans in attendance, the Ice Dogs did not add a power play goal to their lead before the end of the period. After 20 minutes, Niagara held a 1-0 lead, and a 14-9 shot advantage.
The Windsor Spitfires did not get the intended start that video coach Jarrod Smith talked about before today’s game. However, they came out with guns blazing in the second period, scoring three straight goals. Kerby Rychel scored his 4th and 5th goals of the season. First, after receiving a pass from Josh Ho-Sang, he streaked across the blue line and let a quick wrist-shot go from just outside the left circle. Later, on a 5-on-3, Jordan McNaughton’s pass set up Rychel’s one-timer that beat goalie Brent Moran. It was shot with such force that the puck went in and right back out. One more for the Spits gave them a 3-1 lead. Picked up by Jordan Maletta, who tapped it to Rychel. He softly passed to Josh Ho-Sang, and he put the puck behind Moran. 16 seconds later though, the Ice Dogs would bite back. A 3-on-2, cross-ice pass from Jesse Graham to Trevor Petersen could not be stopped by DeKort. Those goals would wrap up the scoring for the second as Windsor took control with a 3-2 lead.
Heading into the third, the two teams wanted some chances – to increase the lead, or to tie the game at three. Brady Vail had a breakaway for the Spits, but their penalties ceased any other offensive opportunities. On a power play, Niagara got in close. Bad luck followed as Nick Ebert pushed the net off its moorings. As a result, the Spits were called for delay of game and were now two men down. At first, Windsor was killing off the penalties really well: players blocked shots, cleared the puck. Near the boards, Vail tried to knock the puck away from the Ice Dogs. Niagara kept control though, and Ryan Strome’s slap-shot made its way to the back of the net no problem. The score remained 3-3 until the end of the period and the two teams prepared for overtime.
Much like the rest of the game, captain Saverio Posa had a strong period. He halted a couple of Niagara chances. With two minutes left, Niagara took a penalty. Despite some great puck movement and shots, Windsor was not able to score. Overtime ended and the teams were focusing on the shootout ahead. Windsor just could not seem to score 1-on-1 with Brent Moran. After the Spits missed their first two shots, the Ice Dogs’ Luke Mercer sealed the victory for Niagara. The Spitfires have now lost each of their three shootouts.
Windsor’s next game is at home, this Thursday, October 18th against the Erie Otters.