The Ice Dogs stunned the Colts as they score three third period goals in 68 seconds to take Game 1 of the Eastern Conference Finals 3-2.
Both teams entered the East Finals following a second round sweep as the Colts exacted their postseason woes by taking out the team who has sent the Colts packing the previous two years the North Bay Battalion. Meanwhile, the Ice Dogs took down the Eastern Conference’s top seeded Kingston Frontenacs as they improved their playoff record to 8-1.
As expected, the Colts’ heavy hitters came out throwing the body trying to establish a physical forecheck. Leading the way was Keigan Goetz as he knocked down a pair of Ice Dogs early to set the tone for the Colts.
Nearly halfway through the first, the Colts opened the scoring as new Columbus Blue Jackets’ prospect Justin Scott was in the right place at the right time as he buried the Andrew Mangiapane rebound by Alex Nedeljkovic for his league leading 15th goal of the postseason. Mangiapane and Kevin Labanc recorded the assists.
Mackenzie Blackwood was sharp in the first frame as he stopped all 16 of the Niagara shots he faced to keep the Colts up 1-0 going into the second.
The second saw neither team able to find the back of the net as both team settled into a defensive groove, limiting the quality scoring chances while Blackwood and Nedeljkovic turned aside everything they saw, allowing the Colts to hold onto their one goal lead heading into the third.
Halfway through the third, the Ice Dogs looked to even the score on the powerplay as Michael Webster was sent off for holding. However, it would be the Colts that would make the most of it as Andrew Mangiapane forced a turnover, leading to a breakaway, where he made no mistake burying the backhand by Nedeljkovic for his 9th of the playoffs.
Just as the Colts looked to build on their momentum, it was quickly stripped away as Niagara’s powerful offence, mixed with some puck luck, exploded for three goals in a 68 second span to take a 3-2 lead.
The first came off the stick of defenceman Blake Siebenaler as his point deflected off Keigan Goetz before making its way past Blackwood. Siebenaler’s goal was his first of the playoffs as Brendan Perlini and Ryan Mantha picked up the helper.
54 seconds after Siebenaler got Niagara within one, Aaron Haydon’s point shot trickled towards Barrie’s net where Joshua Ho-Sang corralled the loose puck and fired one past Blackwood to tie the game at 2-2. Haydon and Pavel Jenys would be credited with the assists on Ho-Sang’s 4th of the postseason.
Niagara would take the lead 14 seconds after Ho-Sang’s goal as puck luck was once again on the Ice Dogs’ side. Following a turnover by Anthony Stefano, defenceman Aaron Haydon’s shot would be blocked by Stefano, only to land right on the blade of Jordan Maletta who was located perfectly in the slot where he buried one over the shoulder of Blackwood. Maletta’s 2nd of the playoffs gave Niagara the lead with 7:15 remaining as Haydon registered the lone assist on the goal.
Despite a flurry of chances in the final minutes, the Colts couldn’t get one by Alex Nedeljkovic as Niagara held on for the 3-2 win.
With the win, the Ice Dogs have now won 7 straight games, dating back to their first round match-up against the Ottawa 67’s. Andrew Mangiapane was solid up front for the Colts as he recorded a goal and an assist while Mackenzie Blackwood had another solid start between the pipes making 39 saves in the loss.
Game 2 takes place Saturday night at BMC as Barrie looks to even the series at 1-1. Get your tickets now by going to BMC Box Office or visiting www.ticketbreak.com.