Where: Leon’s Centre in Kingston
Time: 7 PM
Erie Otters: 36 GP: 15-13-2-6 (38 pts – 4th Midwest Div / 9th West Conf)
Kingston Frontenacs: 35 GP: 10-21-2-2 (24 pts – 5th East Div / 8th East Conf)
Two teams battling for a spot in the OHL playoff picture took to the ice in Kingston on Friday night in the home-debut for 2019 import selection Martin Chromiak. Erie came in after a big 5-0 win in Peterborough the previous night.
A trio of Kingston natives played in front of their families for the visiting squad with Cameron Morton, Jack Duff (captain), and Hayden Fowler all hailing from the Limestone City.
Said Morton on his return to Kingston:” It feels great being back in my hometown. I did stuff here during the games for the Frontenacs and playing for Junior Frontenacs it’s obviously an honour to come back and play.” Otters Star defenceman Jamie Drysdale was not in the Otters lineup while with Team Canada at the World Junior tournament. “Definitely, he’s (Drysdale)a big part of our team and it’s a big hole to fill,” added the six-foot 176-pound defenceman on stepping up in his absence. “I think we’ve filled in pretty good for him, but we’ll be happy to have him back soon.”
Newly activated Martin Chromiak played on the top line with Shane Wright and Zayde Wisdom as he did in Ottawa the last game. Ryan Dugas was back in the pipes after his 51-save winning performance in his last start vs Mississauga. Christian Propp was in net for the last game in Ottawa.
Tonight marked the last of two games between the east and west conference opponents. The Otters had won the previous meeting 4-1 back on October 5th in Erie.
- Shane Wright tied for OHL rookie point lead (32), leads rookie shots (114), Rookie game-winning goals (3), PPG’s (6), and tied with teammate Arcuri for rookie shootout goals (3). Only rookie with a shorthanded goal.
- 2019 1st round import selection Martin Chromiak joined the team from the Czech HK Dukla Trencin this week and had a goal and an assist in his first game in Ottawa on Thursday.
Erie Otters looked strong for a majority of the game pressuring Kingston with plenty of shots including 17 in the second period to hand Kingston their second loss in a row and take the 6-3 win. Coach Kurtis Foster wasn’t thrilled with the effort he got from some of his players saying after the game: “The things we talked about doing we didn’t do, and on top of that, the effort-level was not where it needed to be and it’s not acceptable.”
“We talked about being better in net-front because they were going to shoot pucks and get guys there and that’s what they did.” Getting scored on four times during a seven-minute span in the second was a hole that ultimately couldn’t be dug out of. Kingston’s had issues at times this season giving up multiple goals in short spans even in games they’ve played well for the remaining portions. Recognizing it’s a concern he said: “Its a problem and we need to find a way to dial it back in (at those times).”
The second-year constantly stressed that his club needs to bring a hard-working 60-minute game playing a hard-checking style in the offensive-zone to compete. Foster echoed that afterwards;” We turned over way too many pucks, we played soft in front of our net and didn’t block enough shots. When you aren’t doing those things you will have trouble winning games. Right now the hockey we are playing won’t win us many games.” Kingston played very good hockey through a stretch of 10 games last month and they clearly need to get back to that level of compete.
Veteran Nick Wong was a surprise healthy scratch as the coach looks to improve accountability from his players. “We made a point tonight with a scratch and maybe it didn’t resonate enough with the rest of the guys and we’ll make sure they know that tomorrow,” added Foster.
Erie came out hard looking for the first goal on the road and had the better scoring opportunities but Frontenacs starter Ryan Dugas held his team in as Erie outshot the Frontenacs 12-3 over the first 15 minutes of the opening frame. Dugas’ best stop came just 1:40 in as he made a nice glove save showing signs of confidence as he challenged the shooter coming out of his crease.
Dawson Baker played a heavy period with two big hits bringing some energy to an otherwise lethargic opening period for the home team. Lucas Rowe and Brendan Hoffman engaged in a scrap at 15:42 when the Otters forward to an exception to a check thrown by Rowe and engaged the Kingston forward. Rowe did receive a two-minute penalty for blindsiding with Hoffman while Hoffman was given instigator and misconduct penalties.
Kingston almost got on the board with 1:45 left when Vitali Pinchuk made a nice pass to Hutton who was all alone in front of Otters goalie Aidan Campbell. Hutton got a good stick on it but the goalie made a nice reaction save to keep it scoreless. The Frontenacs broke through on a late period goal to take the lead at 19:05 as team scoring-leader Zayde Wisdom scored the 1-0 goal assisted by Dustin Hutton and Nick King.
After a nice stretch pass by King got by Otters defenceman Travis Henry, Wisdom went in on a two-on-one with Chromiak before beating Campbell on the blocker-side with a wrist-shot for his team-leading 20th goal.
The teams went to the first intermission with the Frontenacs ahead on the scoreboard but being outplayed on the ice getting outshot 12-7 in a relatively sloppy period for both teams.
Once again Erie came out with a push in the second period and it wouldn’t be long before the continued pressure got them on the board at 3:06 tying the game 1-1. After an Erie point shot came took an awkward bounce off the back-boards and came directly back in front of the crease and Danial Singer banged it past Dugas. Morton and Fowler both assisted on the fortunate bounce for Erie. Kingston almost scored again when Chormiak was sent in on a breakaway but Campbell was able to close the door preventing Erie from dropping down a second time.
Over the next 6:52 of game-time, the Otters scored three times taking a commanding lead. After a won face-off by Fowler went directly to Danial Singer, he fired a shot that Dugas saved but couldn’t hold onto the rebound before a driving Emmitt Sproule poked a backhand past the downed goalie giving the 2-1 lead to Erie at 4:27.
It was 3-1 at 5:40 on Singer’s second goal and third point of the period from Drew Hunter and Chad Yetman. The Otter forward was left alone in front of the net and knocked down an errant shot before putting the puck past Dugas. Coach Foster took a timeout to try and settle things down as Kingston was already getting outshot 10-3 in the period. Kingston failed to score on their first powerplay of the game before the visitors then made it 4-1 on their 28th shot on goal when Morton got his second point of the period scoring at 9:58.
Daniel D’amato and Duff both took penalties in the middle of the period giving Kingston’s powerplay a lengthy five-on-three but Campbell and the OHL number one penalty-killing unit held Kingston off. The Frontenacs scored late in the period at 18:25 cutting the lead down when Wright got his 19th banging home a loose puck after Wisdom had centred a pass deflecting off an Otter defender’s skate. Erie had 17 shots on the Kingston net in the period.
Kingston came out harder to start the third and was rewarded on their fifth shot to open the frame. It was 4-3 at 3:41 after King let an accurate wrist shot go bringing Kingston back within one. Baker and Justin Pringle teamed up for assists on a great play with a heavy-forecheck behind the Erie goal. After getting the turnover Baker fed King who took the puck and beat Campbell blocker-side high for his fifth of the season.
Erie was able to halt the Kingston pressure just under a minute later at 4:39 after an unfortunate play that saw Kingston defender Ethan Ritchie lose his footing at his blueline setting up an opportunity for Maxim Golod to beat Dugas low glove side for the 5-3 goal and regain the two-goal lead. It was 6-3 with eight minutes left on another rebound goal as Golod scored his second of the period to seal the game for Erie.
Cameron Morton had a two-point night (1G,1A) and Hayden Fowler had an assist in helping the Otters to a victory in their hometown. As a rookie in the league, Morton understands the pressures of playing in the OHL and was impressed by fellow rookie Shane Wright. “He’s a great player who works hard and I haven’t seen a talent like him before coming up before this year. He’s definitely a top guy to watch out for when you’re out there.”
Kingston will now head to Hamilton tomorrow for an early 4 PM start against the Bulldogs before their next home game on Friday, Jan 10th against Team Canada World Junior member Aidan Dudas and the Owen Sound Attack.
- Danial Singer – Erie
- Aidan Campbell – Erie
- Nick King – Kingston
CHL Hardest Working Player (Voted by Fans):
- Martin Chromiak – Kingston
Coach Foster commented on his new player and feels that his experience in a pro-league will help him transition to the CHL. “What’s impressive about him is that he looks comfortable already, he looks poised and under control. You can definitely tell he’s played pro before against men. It will still be a bit of a learning process for him but I’ve been impressed so far.”