WINDSOR, Ont. – All four teams have seen action and both Ontario Hockey League teams find themselves in good position following two days of action at the 2017 MasterCard Memorial Cup.
The Erie Otters skated to a 4-2 win over the Western Hockey League’s Seattle Thunderbirds on Saturday afternoon, the open the event on a strong note.
The two teams managed to trade goals through 40 minutes before the Otters scored a pair of goals in the final period to skate away with the victory.
Otters forward Dylan Strome broke the tie 1:36 into the third period while Christian Girhiny sealed the win with an empty-net goal with 1:19 to go in regulation.
High-scoring forward Alex DeBrincat had a goal and an assist for the Otters.
Taylor Raddysh assisted on a pair of Erie goals. Jordan Sambrook had the other Erie goal.
Goaltender Troy Timpano made 18 saves for Erie.
“We came out really fast to start the game and we were able to continue it throughout the game,” said Garden River product Owen Headrick, a defenceman with the Otters. “We really pushed them and we were strong defensively.”
Headrick called facing the Thunderbirds a change from the norm as the expectations chance when you play a team from a different league.
“It’s a lot different than the playoffs and the regular season,” Headrick said. “We’ve never played these guys before so we didn’t know what to expect. They’re a really good team.”
Scott Eansor and Austin Strand scored for Seattle.
Seattle Coach Steve Konowalchuk spoke of the Thunderbirds making “bad choices” in the loss.
“We’ve got to get back to the desperate hockey that got us here,” Konowalchuk said.
Rookie goaltender Carl Stankowski, who competed for one of the three Canadian teams at the World Under-17 Hockey Challenge in Sault Ste. Marie in the fall, was solid for Seattle in making 31 saves.
“He was good,” Konowalchuk said. “He really gave us a chance, especially early on, and that’s all you can ask. He can get out there and make big saves for us and we want to make his job easier going forward.”
Knoblauch credited Stankowski, saying the rookie made capitalizing on opportunities tough for the Otters.
The tournament continues Sunday night as the Thunderbirds return to action to face the Windsor Spitfires.
“It will be good to get back at it,” Konowalchuk said. “Our identity wasn’t there at times (against Erie) and we’ll correct a few things.”
Erie is back in action on Monday night against the Saint John Sea Dogs. The Sea Dogs will look to rebound after a day one loss to the Spitfires.
Saint John Coach Danny Flynn, who spent time as an assistant coach with the Soo Greyhounds where he worked with Ted Nolan, wasn’t pleased with the effort of his team in Friday’s loss while Knoblauch said he expects a better effort from the Sea Dogs on Monday.