Erie Otters Punch Ticket to OHL Finals

The Erie Otters are going to the Ontario Hockey League Finals.

They punched their ticket to the big dance by defeating the Owen Sound Attack 7-2 in Game 6 of the OHL’s Western Conference Finals. This marked the first time all season that the Attack have lost three games in a row in regulation.

Owen Sound Came Out Swinging

Knowing that this could be their last game of the season, Owen Sound started strong. They threw everything they had at the Otters and it led to them scoring the first goal.

Just like in Game 5, rookie Aidan Dudas opened the scoring on a nice rush. That goal was Dudas’ third goal in his last two games after scoring twice in Game 5. That seemed to calm the Attack down.

Then a bunch of penalties took place that altered the course of this game.

First Darren Raddysh and Jacob Friend each took minors midway through the first period. Then captain Santino Centorame clipped Dylan Strome with a high stick. With just 10 seconds left in the man advantage, Anthony Cirelli found himself open in the slot and scored to tie the game. After Owen Sound had most of the momentum until that point, that goal gave Erie life.

Game-Changing Match Penalty

Then the complexion of the game changed thanks to a match penalty.

Centorame found himself behind the net about a minute after the Otters scored. He put his skate underneath the Otters’ player and took him down with the referee in plain sight. The call was a slew foot. That match penalty forced Centorame from the game and gave the Otters a five-minute power play.

The penalty carried over to the second period where Owen Sound almost killed the major. With under a minute left in the penalty, overage player of the year Darren Raddysh blasted the puck from center point to make the score 2-1 Otters.

Erie’s Domination

Just under three minutes later, Cirelli displayed his brilliant hands by effectively tipping a shot past goaltender Michael McNiven to make the score 3-1. The Otters seemed like they were in cruise control after that.

Owen Sound once again responded, showing why they were one of the best teams in the OHL this season.

Petrus Palmu connected from the slot to make the score 3-2. The Bayshore was brought back to life. Then in less than two minutes, the building became quiet again.

Dylan Strome, Erie Otters, OHL, OHL Playoffs
Dylan Strome scored twice to help Erie defeat Owen Sound. (Photo by Terry Wilson / OHL Images)

Strome drove the net and Kyle Maksimovich found him with a pass and he made no mistake to make the score 4-2. That three-goal outburst gave the Otters a lot of confidence going into the locker room knowing they were just 20 minutes away from the OHL Finals.

The Otters then made it 5-2 thanks again to Strome. His persistence paid off in front of McNiven to give the Otters a three-goal lead.

Anthony Cirelli then found himself with a shorthanded breakaway. He went backhand and scored to not only make the score 6-2, it gave him a hat trick for the game. Warren Foegele put icing on the cake to make the final score 7-2.

The Otters’ win gives them their second Wayne Gretzky trophy in the last four seasons. They will open the OHL Finals at home this coming Thursday night against the Mississauga Steelheads. The winner clinches a berth in the Memorial Cup taking place in Windsor.

The Otters won all four meetings with the Steelheads, outscoring them 23-7 during the regular season.