Matthew Struthers had a gut feeling that he was going to score the game-winning goal in overtime for the fairy tale ending in his return with the Attack.
“I had some good opportunities earlier in the game. I’m like any other kid, you want to get the puck and score. Brady made a really good play and I was lucky to score, it feels really good,” said the over-ager as the Attack downed the Niagara IceDogs 6-5 in the extra frame.
Struthers was acquired from the North Bay Battalion Monday, after starting his OHL career in Owen Sound.
“It’s been a crazy 48 hours. When that went in, you get that feeling in your stomach. This crowds amazing, the best fans in the CHL. To do that on my first night(back) was pretty special and it’s huge to get the two points.”
Owen Sound jumped out to a quick lead, just 1:17 into the first period. Barret Kirwin scored a goal that could find it’s way on the OHL highlight reel. Kaleb Pearson passed him the puck down low in the corner and Kirwin dragged it through his legs and scored on the backhand to give the Attack a 1-0 lead.
Moments later, Ethan Burroughs was slotted at the side of the net and shot the puck past Niagara’s Christian Sbaraglia for a 2-0 lead.
Kyen Sopa scored his 13th of the year for Niagara. He spun and fired the puck over the blocker of Attack goalie Mack Guzda to cut the Owen Sound lead to 2-1.
In the 2nd period, Deni Goure parked himself in front of the net on the PP and was able to bury a rebound to restore Owen Sound’s 2 goal lead.
“Our young guys have taken a step and are contributing more even if they aren’t on the score sheet. The draft this year was really good and our young guys will be good for us in the future,” said Attack Assistant Coach Joey Hishon on receiving contributions from his rookies and veterans.
Philip Tomasino and Jake Uberti each scored for the IceDogs to even the game 3-3 at the end of the 2nd period.
The Attack got out to a quick start in the 3rd period. Kirwin and Burroughs each scored their 2nd goals of the game in the 1st 5 minutes to give the Attack a 5-3 lead.
Sopa scored his 2nd of the night, and then Andrew Bruder tipped an AJ Cook point shot that beat Guzda knotting the game at 5.
In the extra frame, Tomasino was called for interference to give the Attack a 4-on-3 man advantage, where Struthers beat Sbaraglia short side to seal the deal for the Attack.
Sbaraglia made 42 saves on 48 shots for Niagara, while Guzda stopped 33 of 38 shots.
Owen Sound was 2/4 on the PP, while the IceDogs were 1/5.
“It’s something we focus on and it’s incredibly important. When they buy in to block shots we got a very successful unit,” said Hishon on his teams PK.
Owen Sound is back in action Friday night, on Sportsnet as they play on the road at Budweiser Gardens against the London Knights.
Owen Sound did a great job shutting down Niagara’s top line, in which Hishon credits Andrew Perrott and Mark Woolley.”They do a great job. They play a lot of hard minutes for us and they get rewarded in different ways than points, it definitely doesn’t get unnoticed.”
Aidan Dudas was out of the lineup with an upper-body injury. He was recently named to Team Canada’s World Junior Selection Camp, as was Akil Thomas of the IceDogs.