~~St. Catharines, ON
The Icedogs came out with another spirited game tonight, but would end up falling short to the nationally ranked Guelph Storm squad 4-2 in front of an announced crowd of 2,954.
Niagara was given an early chance on the powerplay only 17 seconds into the game, but could not capitalize (they would go 1/9 on the PP). Guelph would hit the scoresheet first with a point shot from Trojanovic that would be redirected by Assistant Captain Ryan Horvat for an early 1-0 lead. The Dogs were buzzing again and came close at the 9:00 mark, but an offspeed tip in the slot would flutter over Guelph’s goalie Mancina and rest on the top of the net. After one period, shots on goal were 14-8 in favour of the leading Guelph Storm 1-0.
At the beginning of the second period, as the Icedogs were coming off a powerplay, they would set up a nifty cross ice passing play between Mercer and Perlini who fed the puck to Verhaeghe for the tying goal 1-1. First star Robbi Fabbri would respond with his 26th goal of the season about 9 minutes later to allow Guelph to retake the lead 2-1. The goal was fabricated on the powerplay by some solid puck movement coming from Ebert and Mitchell. Jordan Maletta would hit a post at the 9:25 mark on a subsequent powerplay, but the Storm would take their slim 2-1 lead into the changerooms to complete the second period.
The third period was highlighted by the Guelph Storm killing off 4 penalties Niagara had their chances, but were only able to get one goal past Mancina. Perlini tied the game at 2-2 from a nifty passing play courtesy of Jordan Maletta and Carter Verhaeghe at the 6:37 mark. The game winning goal would happen a short time later off the stick of Scott Kosmachuk. He would break in on a 2 on 1 from his own blueline after intercepting an errant pass. He would use his teammate as a decoy and ripped home the wrist shot upstairs past Brent Moran for the go ahead goal.
Niagara’s coaching staff was upset about an offensive play shortly after when Guelph’s defenceman would be forced into Mancina knocking both of them into the net while Niagara had possession of the puck at the point. The referee blew the play dead when the goalie removed his mask to force his hand. There was also an offside play late in the game that was not called while Niagara had their goalie pulled which indirectly led to the final Guelph goal into an empty net. Despite being outshot by Niagara 23-7 in the last 2 period, Guelph had enough to nurse the game and leave with a 4-2 victory.
Niagara forward Mitchell Fitzmorris said that ‘we had some good speed, we knew they were fast and matched up well with them for 50 or 55 minutes of the game. We just didn’t get the bounces and weren’t able to execute everytime we wanted to.’ He said that the trade deadline ‘can be a stressful time for players in the league but with just one more sleep to go, we can settle in and just play hockey’.
Next up for the Icedogs is a quick road trip to Kitchener to take on the struggling Rangers on Friday night, then the Pesky Dogs return home to host the Windsor Spitfires on Saturday night.
The Guelph Storm host London Friday night and then play the Rangers in a home/home series.