A 33 save performance from Mackenzie Blackwood wasn’t enough for the Colts as they fell 4-1 to the Niagara Ice Dogs. With their win tonight, the Ice Dogs improved their record in the postseason to 10-1, which includes victories in their last eight games.
Entering tonight’s game, both Blackwood and Alex Nedeljkovic have put up impressive numbers in the playoffs. Blackwood had posted a .925 save percentage and a 2.33 GAA in 8 games. Nedeljkovic has started every game for Niagara, where he has been every bit as good as Blackwood, posting a .917 save percentage to go with a 2.41 GAA.
Goaltending was the story of the first period as neither Blackwood or Nedeljkovic let one in as the game was scoreless going into the second. Blackwood made 13 stops in the period while Nedeljkovic turned aside the 9 shots he saw.
However thirty seconds into the second period, Niagara would strike first as Stephen Harper intercepted the Michael Webster pass before picking the top corner on Blackwood for his 1st of the playoffs.
The Colts looked to tie the game prior to the third, however they couldn’t get one by Nedeljkovic who made 12 saves in the second to keep Barrie off the scoreboard.
Niagara would go up by two before heading into the final frame on a power play goal by Anthony DiFruscia. As the Ice Dogs worked the puck around, it would eventually make its way to the front of the net where DiFruscia slipped it by Blackwood. Joshua Ho-Sang and Stephen Harper grabbed the assists on DiFruscia’s 4th of the playoffs.
1:40 into the final frame, the Colts would get one back on the power play as Andrew Mangiapane cleaned up the Justin Scott attempt in front and buried it by a sprawled out Nedeljkovic for his 10th of the playoffs as Scott and Kevin Labanc recorded the helpers.
Just as the Colts looked to gain some momentum, anticipating a tying goal, the Ice Dogs would get their two goal back as Graham Knott’s 2nd of the postseason made it 3-1 Niagara. Knott’s initial shot missed the net but the puck would bounce off the end board, back in front of Barrie’s net where he slid the rebound by Blackwood. Aleksander Mikulovich would get the lone assist on Knott’s tally.
Niagara put the game away with 8:55 to go as Canadian World Junior forward Brendan Perlini rifled a bullet over the shoulder of his former World Junior teammate to give Niagara a 4-1 lead. Mikulovich and Christopher Paquette recorded the assists on Perlini’s 6th of the playoffs.
Games 3 & 4 of the series will take place in St. Catherines Monday & Wednesday nights respectively as the Colts look to bring themselves within one in the series. Game 5 of the series, if needed, will take place Friday night at BMC.