BY ALEX LUPUL
IceDog fans – all 4291 of them - descended on St. Catharines’ Meridian Centre on Nov. 30, to catch the latest battle between Niagara and the Erie Otters.
With 14 total goals scored during the teams’ two previous matchups earlier this season, fans hoped to catch a glimpse of another high-scoring contest against their Midwest Division opponent.
After puck drop, both teams were able to quickly create scoring chances in close, creating havoc for their respective opposing goaltender. But an early tripping minor penalty, committed by Niagara’s Ben Jones, gave the Otters an early power play opportunity.
At 4:43 into the game, the Otters made quick use of the man-advantage. Forward Taylor Raddysh received a pass down low before finding Gera Poddubnyi in the low-slot. He quickly fired a shot past Niagara goalie Stephen Dhillon for his eighth goal of the season.
Despite trailing by a goal going into the second period, a rebound off of Erie goaltender Troy Timpano led to an easy goal for the IceDogs’ Bradey Johnson.
Johnson’s goal proved to be the spark the IceDogs’ offence needed. Fifty-eight seconds later, Niagara forward Oliver Castleman released a shot from the left face-off circle, wiring it past Timpano.
Johnson continued to drive the IceDogs’ offence, scoring his second goal of the night on a backhand shot that eluded Timpano, giving Niagara a 3-1 lead.
With three goals allowed in just under nine minutes, Erie Head Coach Chris Hartsburg had seen enough, pulling Timpano from the game in favour of Anand Oberoi.
Unfortunately for the Otters, Oberoi didn’t fare much better in relief.
A well-placed cross-seam pass by Niagara’s Ben Jones gave Kirill Maksimov a wide-open net to place his team-leading fifteenth goal of the season.
After a four goal second period, the IceDogs entered the third period with a comfortable 4-1 lead.
Any shred of hope the Otter’s had for a late-game comeback were pushed well outside of reach by Niagara forward Danial Singer. The winger received a pass in the low-slot and fired it home over Oberoi’s glove outstretched glove.
After five unanswered goals, Erie’s Kyle Maksimovich scored his twelfth of the year at the midway point of the third period. But with a 5-2 lead, the IceDogs cruised to an easy victory against the Otters.
Niagara’s next home game will be against the North Bay Battalion on Dec. 15 at 7 p.m.