With a win on Sunday afternoon at home, Kingston Frontenacs would be to within one point of the final playoff spot in the Eastern Conference as they hosted the Mississauga Steelheads. After a frustrating start of the year for Kingston, the team won three in a row heading into the matchup with points in four straight games. After a slow start this afternoon, the Frontenacs indeed found themselves closer to that spot with a 3-2 win.
Kurtis Foster wanted to keep the momentum going and feels the confidence the team has is high with the stretch of wins. “Of course it’s not the start we wanted to the season but, right now, it gives us some incentive for Sunday, keep the streak going and to be fighting for that playoff spot“, he said after Friday’s win over Sudbury. You can feel the energy around the team and Foster agreed to comment: “ I think the guys will be excited (for today), there’s just a different mood and vibe on the team right now and it’s nice to see for them.”
Rookie defenceman Braden Hache echoed his coach’s thoughts saying: “the boys are really starting to find ourselves as a team. This weekend is huge and we’re really going to push for a win on Sunday.”
After a big 5-3 Friday night win over Sudbury, Kingston looked to take advantage of a team playing in back-to-back days with Mississauga coming in losing 2-0 in Ottawa on Saturday. It’s also the third game in three days for the Steelheads having lost 5-2 at home last Thursday to London. Kingston hadn’t lost in regulation in four games going 3-0-0-1 in a stretch that’s seen them start to gel with some new faces over the last month.
The line of Zayde Wisdom, Shane Wright and Dustin Hutton has been on fire since joining up. In the last five games, the trio has combined for nine goals and 18 points. Wisdom began the game against Mississauga on a five-game point streak collecting five goals and eight points. His team-leading 13 goals put him in a tie for 13th in the OHL. Wright, who leads all OHL rookies in shots (63), scored the shootout winner last Thursday in Peterborough and Hutton had points in four-straight with a goal and four assists.
Defenseman Jakob Brahaney continues to have a strong season on the blueline for Kingston. The captain had a pair of multi-assist games over the last three to give him the team lead with 12 helpers. His 75 shots on goal also lead Kingston and have him 33rd overall in the OHL. He is +4 during the Frontenacs current 3-0-0-1 stretch going into Sunday’s game with 14 shots in that stretch. After a -9 rating in the first 11 games, the minute-eating veteran is +5 over the last nine.
Christian Propp got the start in goal for Kingston with Joe Ranger getting the nod for the Steelheads. Propp played well in his first two starts since joining the club losing in a shootout to Kitchener and a backstopping a win vs Sudbury. Coach Foster had said he’d have a tough decision deciding who to put in as he has confidence in both.
Even though the shots were squared up at nine after the 1st period, it was the Steelheads who came out energized. Just 21 seconds into the game, Nicholas Canade put the visitors up 1-0 with his fourth. After coming out of the corner, he fired a wrist shot from the faceoff dot past Propp marking the first time Kingston opened the game getting scored on against in the last four.
Mississauga would go to the penalty kill after an ugly check from behind by Canade on Luke Drewitt giving Kingston a five-minute major powerplay at 8:41 with Canade being ejected from the game. Drewitt was down and needed medical attention on the ice, but did skate off under his own power. Mississauga’s penalty killing units have been inconsistent this year placing them in 19th place just above the Frontenacs.
It may have been an advantage for Kingston in this circumstance, but the Steelheads penalty killers did an excellent job not allowing Kingston any high-quality chances limiting Kingston to three shots.
After a frustrating five minutes of power-play time, Kingston would again go on the powerplay as Mississauga’s was called just as they had killed off the major penalty to Canade. Once again, Mississauga stifled the Kingston powerplay not allowing any sustained setup time for the Frontenacs who had trouble entering the offensive zone numerous times.
Foster wasn’t happy with his teams’ powerplay in the first. “I thought we got outworked, I thought we didn’t come together as a group and do the routes we’re supposed to do, and when you ad-lib and don’t play together…..we gotta play to our structure and outwork the other team.”
Zayde Wisdom was called for hooking at 15:53 for the first Kingston penalty. Mississauga had two great chances off four shots on their powerplay but couldn’t get the two-goal lead as the clubs headed to intermission with the Steelheads up by one.
Kingston had a couple of good chances in the first half of the second period to tie the game, including Ranger making a great save off a Shane Wright redirection during a Kingston powerplay with Richard Whittaker in the box for tripping. Nick King made a beauty pass to Wright who was set up off the post but just couldn’t get it past Ranger who stretched his leg out for a nice save.
Wright would tip a Jake Murray shot to finally tie the game up 1-1 at 12:43 with his ninth of the year to get Kingston some momentum after a sluggish first half of the game. It marked his 63rd shot to lead all OHL rookies. Hutton would extend his point streak to five games (1G,5A) with an assist and the goal gave Wright points in four straight (5G,2A).
Just over four minutes later, Kingston got their first lead of the game going up 2-1 on a beautiful Jake Murray goal. The defenceman tallied his second of the year on an unassisted play that saw him deke around three Mississauga defenders before letting a backhand go that beat Ranger at 16:21.
It was a highlight-reel worthy play that showed off some of the offensive game that Murray is being counted on for, especially since the trade of Billy Constantinou. After a tough first period, Foster wanted some more push from Murray: ” The first he was a little tentative, but the rest of the game he was great,” said Foster after the game. Continuing on Murray he added, ” (he) played assertive, played with a good stick, had a great goal and you want him to push the play and not be afraid to make a mistake and he really turned it around.”
Dawson Baker and Steelheads Richard Whittaker dropped the gloves at 17:03 as the game was getting more chippy. Baker continues to be a physical pain to play against for any opposition he faces. The energy providing forward was in the grill of Steelhead players all game long and was recognized for his tough night winning the Hardest Working Player of the game voted by the fans on the CHL app.
The third period saw the Steelheads control a majority of the opening ten minutes of the frame and were outshooting Kingston 9-2. Wright had Kingston’s best opportunity hitting the post just over a minute in looking to get his team an insurance goal. Mississauga’s Richard Whittaker made a big hit on Wisdom that caught the attention of coach Foster as there was no call on the play.
The teams went to four-on-four after Steelheads Aidan Prueter and Brahaney went to the box for roughing at 2:57. Nearing the end of the penalties, Nick King was forced to haul down James Hardie after the Mississauga forward was sprung on a breakaway pass at 4:35. Hardie was awarded a penalty shot on the hook and he beat Propp for his seventh to tie the game up 2-2.
Minutes later at 12:02, a scrum would ensue when Wright was tangled up with Keean Washkurak and the two wrestled on the ice before Wisdom came to his aid. Washkurak and Kingston’s Francesco Arcuri received roughing minors on the play and the teams went to four-on-four for the second time of the period but Mississuaga’s Liam Ham would get called for slashing at to put the Frontenacs back on the power play.
With the powerplay not able to generate much in their first three opportunities, Kingston was looking to take advantage of the Steelheads 72% penalty-killing rate placing them 19th worse of the 20 OHL teams. Jordan Frasca made a beautiful pass to Wright to get the home team their second lead of the game at 13:21. Wright buried his second goal and tenth of the season on a one-timer past Ranger off a smart cross-ice pass from Frasca at 14:12 for the 3-2 lead. Brahaney also drew an assist on the play for his team-leading 13th and now leads the team in power-play points (9). Wright’s goal tied him with Nick Wong for the team lead in PPG’s with 4.
Mississauga threw everything at Kingston over the remaining six minutes getting six shots including a great chance with three Steelheads banging away in the crease off a rebound, but Propp was once again solid in his goal preserving the 3-2 victory. Coach Foster showed plenty of confidence in Wright having him out for a crucial draw with 15 seconds left. “Shane’s been on a roll, when you count on a 15-year-old to win you game in the last minute, it’s pretty amazing,” commented Foster on the underaged star. On having Wright out for a pivotal faceoff in the defensive zone he said, “He was in his lane, he blocked a shot he got it out, he just gets it, he’s a 200-foot player.”
It was the fourth straight win and fifth consecutive game with a point for Kingston who can now focus on being a battle for the playoffs.
- Shane Wright KGN – 2 Goals
- Jake Murray KGN – 1G, 1A
- Christian Propp KGN – 35 Saves
Luke Drewitt did not return to the game after the hit in the first period. He will be evaluated by the team tomorrow. Upper-body injury and listed day-to-day for now.
The win moved the Frontenacs to within one point of the final playoff spot behind Mississauga in the Eastern Conference standings who will meet again on December 15 in Mississauga. A busy week of games continues with a rare midweek game at the Leons Centre on Wednesday night when the Ottawa 67’s pay a visit at 7 PM.