ST. CATHARINES, Ontario – The Erie Otters were nearly at full strength Thursday night.
But that wasn’t enough to avoid another blowout loss and equal a franchise record for futility.
The Otters suffered their 11th straight defeat in a 7-2 loss to Niagara in front of 3,145 at Gatorade Garden City Complex. That tied the 2006-07 club for the longest losing streak in franchise history. They have been outscored 59-18 during the skid.
The game began with promise, as goaltender Ramis Sadikov (concussion) played for the first time in nearly three weeks. Adam Pelech (fractured wrist) played on defense for the first time in two months.
Rookie winger Sondre Olden (gash on left thigh) ended a three-week absence. Second-year winger Chris Marchese also returned to action after missing the past two games. Mike Cazzola (soreness) missed the game. But Niagara’s Andrew Agozzino was in the spotlight, as his natural hat trick handed the IceDogs a 3-0 lead early in the second period.
Connor Brown put the Otters (3-23-0-0) on the scoreboard 7 minutes, 12 seconds into the third to slice their deficit to 4-1. But the IceDogs (15-10-0-2) scored three of the game’s final four goals.
Stephen Harper scored his ninth goal of the season to tie Brown for the team lead. Sadikov stopped 40-of-47 shots. Pelech had an assist was a plus-1 in his first game since Sept. 24 and third of the season.
Olden and Marchese combined for no points and a minus-2. Agozzino and Dougie Hamilton (three assists) had three points apiece for the IceDogs. Mitchell Theoret scored two goals.
The Otters return to Tullio Arena today for a 7 p.m. game against Barrie.
IceDogs 7, Otters 2
Erie 0 0 2 — 2
Niagara 2 2 3 — 7
1st Period — 1. Niagara, Andrew Agozzino 11 (Strome, Mercer), 17:48. 2. Niagara, Agozzino 12 (unassisted), 19:59. Penalties — Mercer (N) hooking, 9:12; Betz (E) slashing, 12:59.
2nd Period — 3. Niagara, Agozzino 13 (Verhaeghe), 5:13. 4. Niagara, Mitchell Theoret 5 (D. Hamilton, Strome), 8:37. Penalties — Rover (N) elbowing, 15:16; McDonnell (E) 5-min. fighting, 15:16; Rover (N) 5-min. fighting, 15:16; Doan (N) tripping, 17:32
3rd Period — 5. Erie, Connor Brown 9 (unassisted), 7:14. 6. Niagara, David Pacan 14 (Graham, Visentin), 9:42. 7. Niagara, Freddie Hamilton 14 (Graham, D. Hamilton), 14:34. 8. Erie, Stephen Harper 9 (Murphy, Pelech), 14:48. 9. Niagara, Theoret 6 (F. Hamilton, D. Hamilton), 17:37 (pp). Penalties — Niagara, too many men (served by Petersen), :59; Erie, too many men (served by Harper), 2:12; Pelech (E) tripping, 7:23; Glass (E) delay of game, 16:38; Maaskant (E) slashing, 17:17.
Shots on goal — Erie, 10-8-13—31; Niagara, 17-15-15—47.
Goaltenders — Erie, Ramis Sadikov 2-6-0-0 (47 shots, 40 saves); Niagara, Mark Visentin 9-7-0-1 (31 shots, 29 saves).
Power plays — Erie (0-4), Niagara (1-5).
Referees — Mike Cairns, Joe Celestin. Linesmen — Chris Thornton, Darryl Wolfe.
Attendance — 3,145.
* Andrew Agozzino, IceDogs (3 goals) ** David Pacan, IceDogs (goal, assist) *** Mark Visentin, IceDogs (29 saves)