After a valiant effort to come back from a four-goal deficit, the Kingston Frontenacs ultimately fell 5-4 to the Mississauga Steelheads on Sunday afternoon in Kingston, but after the game, it was all smiles as fans got to spend time with their team.
While the loss was a tough one, there were good things to build from as the team is still positioned to catch a playoff spot in the Eastern Conference as the Niagara IceDogs remain only one point ahead of Kingston while playing an extra game.
Dawson Baker continued his excellent offensive season and rookie Shane Wright would add to his OHL rookie scoring lead with his 52nd point but it was James Hardie who would bookend a pair of goals scoring the games’ first and last goal to help the Steelheads escape along with a pair of Aidan Prueter strikes in what could have been a stinging-loss for a team at one point up by four in the game.
Where: Leon’s Centre in Kingston
Time: 2 p.m.
Mississauga Steelheads 51 GP: 23-24-3-1(50 pts – 2nd Central Div. / 5th Eastern Conf.)
Kingston Frontenacs: 49 GP: 17-28-2-2 (38 pts – 5th East Div. / 9th Eastern Conf.)
With a win over the Mississauga Steelheads on Sunday afternoon, the Kingston Frontenacs could position themselves into the eighth and final playoff spot in the Eastern Conference. Over the last 10 games, the Frontenacs have picked up eight points including six on the last three during a three-game winning streak.
Kingston is 2-1-0-0 against Mississauga this season including a 4-2 win for Kingston in the last game on Dec 29 in Mississauga. Ryan Dugas made 51 saves including 25 in the third alone. Kingston will obviously need to mitigate the shots against and provide better support to Christian Propp, who got the call in goal today for Kingston. He would go up against OHL save and minute-leader Kai Edmonds who also sits fifth with 22 wins. The teams have an even nine goals for and against each other so far in the season series.
Frontenacs Captain Jakob Brahaney would play career-game number 250 for Kingston as he winds down his OHL career as an overage rearguard and continues to be a pivotal force on Kingston’s back-end leading the team in assists and shots. The Frontenacs continued to be without rookie-defenceman Braden Hache and forward Luke Drewitt still nursing injuries.
Game-Night Stat Check:
- Shane Wright leads OHL rookie scoring (49), goals (30) and rookie powerplay goals (7), and tied in SOG (154)
- Wright (19.5 percent) and Martin Chromiak (19.0 percent) both sit in top three for OHL rookie shooting percentage
- Wright (49), Vitali Pinchuk (22), Chromiak (20), and Francesco Arcuri(18) are all in top-20 OHL scoring for rookies
- Brahaney 250 career games played today
- Maddox Callens birthday is Feb 11 (17-years-old)
After a fairly tempered start to the game, the Steelheads took the 1-0 lead at 6:58 on a James Hardie goal that just squeaked through Propp’s equipment. Kingston would have a couple of powerplay opportunities to get even but couldn’t connect on the leagues’ 15th-ranked penalty killing team recording only one shot on Edmonds in the Steelhead crease.
Justin Pringle had Kingston’s best chance of the frame in the closing seconds as he found himself in a high-scoring area but Edmonds was able to deflect away the wrist shot by Pringle and the teams skated to intermission with the Frontenacs leading on the shot-clock 12-8 but down the 1-0 goal.
Mississauga came out strong again in the second and forced Propp into a great save off the left-side of his crease just 38 seconds in. After the Jordan Frasca line finished with a good chance by Baker it was the Steelheads who went up by a pair. It was 2-0 at 5:35 when Michael Stubbs was able to beat Propp after being set up on a nice cross-ice pass by Harley and 3-0 just over a minute later at 6:55 when Aidan Preuter was able to get to a rebound past Propp after he had made a nice save.
The Steelheads took a 4-0 at 10:20 when Prueter scored his second of the game as the Steelhead forwards crashed the crease and banged away at the loose puck in the Kingston crease. Coach Foster made a goaltending change and said afterward: “The goals weren’t on Christian either, I made a change to try and change momentum somehow and Duggie (Ryan Dugas) came in made some saves and we got back in the game. We just have to finish.”
The latter stages of the middle frame saw Kingston start to claw back into the game. Wright would score his 31st just over a minute after the fourth Mississauga goal making it 4-1 at 11:48. Chromiak has setup the OHL leading rookie scorer and he beat Edmonds with a low wrist-shot with Wisdom also assisting in the play.
After roughing minors were given to Baker and Washkurak, the teams played some four-on-four and Kingston would continue to press and after eight-consecutive shots on goal it was 4-2 at 17:56 on Bakers’ 17th goal. Dustin Hutton had made a great play to get him the puck. Brahaney added to his team-leading assist total with his 26th helper to help set up an exciting third period. Dugas made a couple of nice saves just before the period ended.
After Brahaney and Calvin Martin were sent off for coincidental minors, the Steelheads took a second penalty setting up a four-on-three powerplay for Kingston. While on the man-advantage, Chromiak scored at 5:55 to get the Frontenacs within one with a beautiful shot that saw the accurate shooter use his quick-release to beat Edmonds over the glove for a 4-3 game. Wright and Lucas Peric drew assists on the Slovakian’s ninth of the season.
With the goaltender pulled, Kingston would complete the comeback making it 4-4 after the puck would deflect in off Wisdom battling in the crease at 18:43 for his 24th of the year. Wright’s assist would be his third point of the game and Frasca had a well-earned assist giving the Frontenacs a chance to escape with some points.
Unfortunately, Hardie scored his second of the night to silent a frenzied crowd that was still reeling from the four-goal comeback by their home team. The ’20 NHL draft eligible’s 31st goal came just 22 seconds after the tying goal and with only 54 seconds left on the game clock to give the Steelheads the 5-4 win moving them within three points of Sudbury for the Central-division lead.
Once again, the Wisdom, Chromiak, and Wright line had multi-point nights and the trio combined for three goals and four assists, though coach Foster did have some players playing up and down the lineup throughout.
After the game coach Foster explained:” We weren’t giving up too much. We had some powerplays early that we didn’t really gain much momentum and it kind of hurt us. It was a great come-back but we got to find a way to finish. There have been a few times this year we gave up a goal late. We’ve had some opportunities at certain times (on the powerplay) that you need to score a big goal. Overall our powerplay has been where it is all season, but it needs to score that big goal at times.”
With the loss of Braden Hache, another rookie has helped fill in the void. Ethan Ritchie has been solid. Foster added: “He moves the puck well under pressure and not afraid to make a play and he’s always got stuff to work on defensively as any younger D, but we’re happy with his play.”
- Aiden Prueter – MISS
- James Hardie – MISS
- Martin Chromiak – KGN
CHL Hardest Working Player (Voted by Fans):
- Jakob Brahaney
The captain collected his team-leading TT assist and was +1 with three shots logging heavy minutes.
Frontenacs Skate with the Fans
After the game, the Frontenacs players took off the shoulder pads and threw back on their jerseys to go
back out on the ice for the annual skate with season-seat holders. After minutes earlier having had to lose in such a heartbreaking fashion, it was all smiles when the players came back out as they spend an hour with fans on the ice in rare chance to skate with the team while they’re predominately still in uniform.
From Pinchuk looking like he was having the time of his life, Ethan Ritchie playing tag, Ryan Dugas giving free rides to kids, and plenty of selfies to go around it was an awesome hour where hockey met fun and all involved had a great time. It’s not about wins and losses all the time.
Kingston Frontenacs play their next game on Wednesday, February 12 at 7:05 p.m. at Oshawa Generals