Shootout
By Victor Fernandes Erie Times-News staff blogger
Staff writer Victor Fernandes has ice in his veins. Hockey – he plays it, coaches it and provides the region's best coverage of it.   Read more about this blog.
 Phone: 814-870-1716
Archive for the ‘Erie Otters’ category
Posted: April 18th, 2014
Oscar Dansk

GUELPH, Ontario – Oscar Dansk‘s struggles in net continued tonight, but he had plenty of help in allowing seven goals on 30 shots in a 7-2 loss to Guelph tonight in Game 2 of the Western Conference finals.
The OHL’s stingiest scoring defense in the regular season has been unable to handle wave after wave of attacks from the league’s highest-scoring offense this season. The Otters succumbed to a series of 2-on-1s and 3-on-2s, especially in the third period. The Storm deserve lots of credit, because they capitalized on scoring chances with their speed, pinpoint passing and even better shots. But the Otters need to slow down the Attack in a pair of must-win games in Erie on Monday and Tuesday.
“We’ve got to be better,” D Spencer Abraham said. “We know we can’t give them much. They have so much talent up front, much like us. Their top 6 is amongst the best in the league. … Everyone just has to tighten up. One mistake here and there, and it’s been ending up in the back of our net.” 

That begins with better puck possession, which was a staple through the Otters’ success in the regular season and through the first two rounds of the playoffs. The Otters started strong for the second straight game, to the tune of a 13-1 advantage in shots. “They capitalized on their opportunities. We didn’t,” head coach Kris Knoblauch said.
He needs more consistent play from the team’s top line of OHL goals leader Dane Fox, OHL scoring leader Connor Brown and second-year phenom Connor McDavid. They were held to one point in Game 2 – McDavid’s assist on D Cory Genovese‘s goal – and four points (including one goal) in the first two games. They were arguably the league’s best line in the regular season, and were on fire against Saginaw and Sault Ste. Marie. It’s time to raise their game again.

*** As expected, Knoblauch didn’t reveal whether Dansk or Devin Williams will start in goal for Game 3. Yet he did say he started Dansk tonight because Williams needed rest. Williams allowed five goals on 26 shots in a Game 1 loss. But before that, he and the Otters had nine days off after eliminating Sault Ste. Marie in a four-game sweep. So how was he tired?

*** The Otters deserved a better fate early in the game for the second straight night. Shots were 13-1 Otters at one point in the first period. Yet the Storm scored first on their 2nd shot. The Otters built a 16-9 shot advantage in the period, but were still down 3-0. It just shows strong how dangerous the Storm really are.

- Victor Fernandes

Series schedule
No. 3 Erie vs. No. 1 Guelph
Storm lead series 2-0
Game 1 – Guelph 5, Erie 4
Game 2 – Guelph 7, Erie 2
Game 3 – Monday at Erie, 7 p.m.
Game 4 – Tuesday at Erie, 7 p.m.
Game 5 – Friday at Guelph, 7:30 p.m.*
Game 6 – April 26 at Erie, 7 p.m.*
Game 7 – April 28 at Guelph, 7 p.m.*
* If necessary

EASTERN CONFERENCE FINALS
No. 1 Oshawa vs. No. 2 North Bay
Battalion lead series 1-0
Game 1 – North Bay 1, Oshawa 0
Game 2 – Sunday at Oshawa, 6:05 p.m.
Game 3 – Tuesday at North Bay, 7 p.m.
Game 4 – Wednesday at North Bay, 7 p.m.
Game 5 – Friday at Oshawa, 7:05 p.m.*
Game 6 – April 26 at North Bay, 7 p.m.*
Game 7 – April 28 at Oshawa, 7:05 p.m.*

* If necessary

 

Posted: April 18th, 2014

GUELPH, Ontario – The turning point in the Western Conference finals will occur tonight in Game 2.
Erie Otters head coach Kris Knoblauch is starting Oscar Dansk in net, a night after Devin Williams allowed 5 goals on 26 shots in a 5-4 Game 1 loss – but more importantly, after Williams played so well through the first two rounds of the playoffs.
Knoblauch has gone down this road once before this postseason – Game 3 against Saginaw in the first round. Dansk allowed five goals on 25 shots and was replaced by Williams in what became a 7-6 OT loss. That momentarily gave the Spirit life in the series after they lost the first two games in Erie. And that move could have changed the overall series.
I’m not 100 percent surprised by the move. Williams wasn’t bad – average but not bad – in Game 1. But it seemed like the time Knoblauch would consider making the switch. Williams also hasn’t enjoyed a ton of success against the Storm this season – 21 goals against on 182 shots (.884 save percentage) in 5 games this season.
If this move produces a win tonight, the Otters will gain more than home-ice advantage. They will gain added confidence and mometum as they head back to Erie for Games 3 and 4 Monday and Tuesday. If it doesn’t work, the Otters are in trouble.

- Victor Fernandes
 

 

Posted: April 18th, 2014

Western Conference finals, Game 1
Erie Otters vs. Guelph Storm

TONIGHT’S LINEUPS
Starters in bold italics

ERIE OTTERS
Forwards
Burakovsky
-Gaunce-Wigle
Fox-McDavid-Brown
Curtis-Strome-Evans
Murphy-Pettit-Betz

Defense
Genovese-Pelech
MacDermid-Abraham
Dermott-Donnay

Goaltenders
Dansk
Williams

Scratches: Felker (healthy), Raddysh (healthy), Maksimovich (healthy), Wood (healthy)

GUELPH STORM
Forwards
Rychel-Fabbri-Mitchell
Bertuzzi-Dickinson-Kosmachuk
McGinn-Horvat-Auger
Bauman-Suter-Pierog

Defense
Finn-Trojanovic
Leslie-Ebert
Baltisberger-Harpur

Goaltenders
Nichols
Mancina

Scratches: Craievich, Stevens, McFadden

Posted: April 18th, 2014

Western Conference finals, Game 2 (best-of-7 series)
No. 3 Erie Otters vs. No. 1 Guelph Storm
When: Today, 7:30 p.m.
Where: Sleeman Centre – Guelph, Ontario
On the air: WJET-AM/1400, www.ottershockey.com (live stream)
Series update: Guelph leads 1-0 (5-4 win in Game 1 Thursday)
Players to watch

Brendan Gaunce

Erie – G Devin Williams (8-1-1 record, 2.11 goals-against average, .922 save percentage, 2 shutouts), LW Dane Fox (7 goals, 10 assists, 17 points), C Brendan Gaunce (6-9-15), C Connor McDavid (4-11-15), RW Connor Brown (5-9-14), LW Andre Burakovsky (9-3-12), D Adam Pelech (2-3-5, plus-9 rating), C Dylan Strome (2-6-8); Guelph – LW Jason

Brock McGinn

Dickinson (4-10-14), RW Zack Mitchell (5-10-15), G Justin Nichols (9-2-0, 2.89, .914, 1 SHO), LW Kerby Rychel (2-11-13), RW Scott Kosmachuk (6-7-13), LW Brock McGinn (2-1-3 in 3 games), LW Tyler Bertuzzi (7-4-11), D Matt Finn(2-4-6, +9)
Fast facts: The Game 1 loss was the Otters’ second defeat in their last 18 games dating back to the final eight games of the regular season. … They are 0-4 in Guelph this season. … The Otters allowed more than three goals in a game for only the second time in 10 playoff games. He had allowed eight goals in their previous six games. … Williams allowed five goals on 26 shots in the Game 1 loss after surrendering three goals on 122 shots in the four-game sweep of Sault Ste. Marie in the conference semifinals. … McGinn (43-42-85 in the regular season) makes his series debut after completing an eight-game suspension Thursday. … Bertuzzi scored twice in Game 1. … Gaunce has points in eight straight games – tied for the second-longest streak in the playoffs – and in nine of 10 postseason games overall.
Outlook: The Otters began the series wanting to split the first two games in Guelph. Game 1 slipped away. They have one more chance tonight.

- Victor Fernandes

Series schedule
Storm lead series 1-0 
Game 1 – Guelph 5, Erie 4
Game 2 – Today at Guelph, 7:30 p.m.
Game 3 – Monday at Erie, 7 p.m.
Game 4 – Tuesday at Erie, 7 p.m.
Game 5 – April 25 at Guelph, 7:30 p.m.*
Game 6 – April 26 at Erie, 7 p.m.*
Game 7 – April 28 at Guelph, 7 p.m.*
* If necessary
 

 

Posted: April 17th, 2014

GUELPH, Ontario – Even in a game with nine goals, five lead changes and four ties, Dane Fox – the OHL’s leading goal scorer in the regular season – was seemingly non-existent offensively in the Erie Otters’ Game 1 loss to Guelph tonight.
Fox never found his rhythm offensively, because he wasn’t his usual aggressive self. When Fox is at his best, he works relentlessly to get into open ice, puts constant pressure on defenses and utilizes on one of the league’s quickest shots.
But on this night, he seemed stagnant. He didn’t move his feet as well as he ordinarily does. At one point, Fox seemed hurt, as he skated to the bench hunched over with what appeared to be a grimace on his face.
He certainly was frustrated as the game progressed. That frustration boiled over in a big way late in the third period, as he vehemently argued a tripping penalty – his third minor penalty of the game – which led to an early trip to the dressing room with a 10-minute misconduct after being given a good bit of leeway from the officials. That left the Otters short-handed for two minutes, and then during a 6-on-4 power play in the closing seconds that included a final faceoff with 4 seconds left.
Fox joins Brendan Gaunce (who took that draw) as the team’s top faceoff guys.
Fox didn’t speak with the media after the game. Instead, he boarded the team bus early. Yet when asked to assess Fox’s late-game outburst, head coach Kris Knoblauch said, “I’m disappointed when anybody on my team loses it like that.”
“Certainly we could have them at the end of the game for that last shift and that last faceoff,” Knoblauch added. “But certainly we have to stay much more composed and focused, because certainly that’s not who we are. This time of the year, obviously emotions run hot. But certainly we have to look forward to our next shift.”
On the bright side, Fox is too good not to bounce back. Expect a much better effort from him in Game 2 Friday night.

*** Knoblauch didn’t want to comment on the controversial tripping penalty against Fox. Then he ended up commenting anyway. “I didn’t think that was tripping at the end,” he said. “Fox was trying to lift his stick. (Fox) was on his hands, and (the Storm player) falls down.”
The officiating was consistent for the most part. But that was a tough spot to call a penalty that was borderline at best.

*** Defenses didn’t struggle as much as the 5-4 score would indicate. Both offenses were simply in top form.
There wasn’t a bad goal all night. Instead, there were deflections and redirects, strong finishes on odd-man rushes, 2 or 3 wicked wrist shots (including Connor Brown‘s power-play goal in the first period) and a slap shot from Tyler Bertuzzi that sailed through D Travis Dermott‘s legs and past G Devin Williams.

*** However, the Otters’ D has to step up Friday, because a Storm club that scored 5 goals on 26 shots in Game 1 gets suspended 40-goal scorer Brock McGinn back in the lineup.

*** Speaking of the Storm’s attack, this game showed how dangerous they are. They have more quality scorers beyond frontline guys like McGinn, Scott Kosmachuk, Zack Mitchell and Kerby Rychel. Bertuzzi had 2 goals tonight, while Ryan Horvat scored the GW goal 6 minutes into the third period.
“The other lines have to be able to chip in and take some of the pressure off the guys,” head coach Scott Walker said.

- Victor Fernandes
 

 

 

 

Posted: April 17th, 2014

Western Conference finals, Game 1
Erie Otters vs. Guelph Storm

TONIGHT’S LINEUPS
Starters in bold italics (starting lines/D pairings coming soon)

ERIE OTTERS
Forwards
Fox-McDavid-Brown
Burakovsky-Gaunce-Wigle
Curtis-Strome-Evans
Murphy-Pettit-Betz

Defense
Genovese-Pelech
MacDermid-Abraham
Dermott-Donnay

Goaltenders
Williams
Dansk

Scratches: Felker (healthy), Raddysh (healthy), Maksimovich (healthy), Wood (healthy)

GUELPH STORM
Forwards
Mitchell-Dickinson-Kosmachuk
Rychel-Horvat-Auger
Bertuzzi-Fabbri-Pierog
Bauman-Suter-Stevens

Defense
Finn-Trojanovic
Leslie-Ebert
Baltisberger-Harpur

Goaltenders
Nichols
Mancina

Scratches: Craievich, McGinn (suspension), McFadden
 

Posted: April 17th, 2014

OHL playoffs at a glance
Western Conference finals, Game 1 (best-of-7 series)
No. 3 Erie Otters vs. No. 1 Guelph Storm
When: Today, 7 p.m.
Where: Sleeman Centre – Guelph, Ontario
On the air: WJET-AM/1400, www.ottershockey.com (live stream)
Season series: Guelph won 4-2
Playoff recap: Erie def. No. 6 Saginaw 4 games to 1 in conference quarterfinals, def. No. 2 Sault Ste. Marie 4-0 in conference semifinals; Guelph def. No. 8 Plymouth 4-1, def. No. 4 London, 4-1
Players to watch
Erie – G Devin Williams (8-0-1 record, 1.88 goals-against average, .934 save percentage, 2 shutouts), LW Dane Fox (7 goals, 9 assists, 16 points), C Brendan Gaunce (5-9-14), C Connor McDavid (4-10-14), RW Connor Brown (4-9-13), LW Andre Burakovsky (8-2-10), D Adam Pelech (2-2-4, plus-8 rating); Guelph – RW Zack Mitchell (5-10-15), LW Jason Dickinson (4-10-14), G Justin Nichols (8-2-0, 2.77, .919, 1 SHO), LW Kerby Rychel (2-11-13), RW Scott Kosmachuk (6-6-12), C Robby Fabbri (5-4-9), D Matt Finn(2-3-5, +7)

Justin Nichols

Fast facts: Both teams won 52 games on the way to finishing with the top two records in the regular season. … Williams stopped 119-of-122 shots in the sweep of Sault Ste. Marie (0.73 GAA, .975 save percentage) on the way to earning CHL goaltender of the week honors. … Otters C Kyle Pettit (gash across left calf) is expected to play tonight. … Storm LW Brock McGinn (43-42-85 in the regular season, 2-1-3 in three playoff games) completes an eight-game suspension tonight. … These teams have six players among the top 10 in playoff scoring (Fox, Gaunce, McDavid and Brown for the Otters; Mitchell and Dickinson for the Storm). … Fabbri (4-3-7 in three games) is the reigning CHL player of the week. … Gaunce and LW Michael Curtis (2-3-5) reached the conference finals with Belleville a season ago. … Gaunce has points in seven straight games and eight of nine playoff games. … WJET-AM/1400 will broadcast every game in the series.
Outlook: The Otters need to win at least one game in Guelph to capture the series. They faced – and conquered – that same challenge against Sault Ste. Marie in the last round.
Prediction: Otters in 7 games

Posted: April 16th, 2014
 

Posted: April 16th, 2014

Kris Knoblauch led the Erie Otters from last place in the Western Conference – and the league’s second-worst record – to a franchise-record 52 wins and the Western Conference championship series. But that wasn’t enough for Knoblauch to capture the OHL’s Coach of the Year award.
Knoblauch earned 47 voting points, one behind Oshawa’s D.J. Smith, in balloting. Smith led the Generals to the Eastern Conference’s regular-season championship and into the conference finals against North Bay. Guelph’s Scott Walker, whose club won the Hamilton Spectator Trophy as the league’s regular-season champion and face the Otters in the conference finals, finished third with 38 voting points.
Smith will receive the trophy at the OHL Awards Ceremony on June 3 at the Hockey Hall of Fame in Toronto. He also will be the league’s nominee for CHL Coach of the Year.
 

Posted: April 15th, 2014

WESTERN CONFERENCE QUARTERFINALS

No. 1C Colorado Avalanche vs. WC1 Minnesota Wild
Season records: Colorado 52-22-8, Minnesota 43-27-12
Season series: Colorado won 4-0-1
Players to watch
Colorado – G Semyon Varlamov (41-14-6 record, 2.41 goals-against average, .927 save percentage, 2 shutouts), C Matt Duchene (23 goals, 47 assists, 70 points), LW Gabriel Landeskog (26-39-65), C Ryan O’Reilly (28-36-64), C Nathan MacKinnon (24-39-63), D Tyson Barrie (13-25-38, plus-17); Minnesota – RW Jason Pominville (30-30-60), LW Zach Parise (29-27-56), C Mikko Koivu (11-43-54), D Ryan Suter (8-35-43, +15), LW Matt Moulson (23-28-51), G Darcy Kuemper (12-8-4, 2.43, .915, 2 SHO)
Fast facts: Duchene reportedly could miss the first two games with a knee injury. … O’Reilly, a former Erie Otter, set career highs with 28 goals and 64 points, and nearly was the first NHL player to finish a season without any penalty minutes (2 PIMs). … Moulson had six goals and 13 points in 20 games since being acquired from the New York Islanders.
Outlook: The Avalanche are having a dream season after struggling the past few years. They will most one step closer to their dream of capturing the Stanley Cup.
Prediction: Avalanche in 6 games

Series schedule
Game 1 – Thursday at Colorado, 9:30 p.m.
Game 2 – Saturday at Colorado, 9:30 p.m.
Game 3 – Monday at Minnesota, 7 p.m.
Game 4 – April 24 at Minnesota, 9:30 p.m.
Game 5 – April 26 at Colorado, TBD*
Game 6 – April 28 at Minnesota, TBD*
Game 7 – April 30 at Colorado, TBD*
* If necessary

No. 2C St. Louis Blues vs. No. 3C Chicago Blackhawks
Season records: St. Louis 52-23-7, Chicago 46-21-15
Season series: St. Louis won 3-2
Players to watch
St. Louis – G Ryan Miller (25-30-4, 2.64, .918, 1 SHO), LW Alexander Steen (33-29-62), RW T.J. Oshie (21-39-60), C David Backes (27-30-57), LW Jaden Schwartz (25-31-56), D Alex Pietrangelo (8-43-51, +20), D Kevin Shattenkirk (10-35-45, +1); Chicago – LW Patrick Sharp (34-44-78), RW Patrick Kane (29-40-69), C Jonathan Toews (28-40-68), D Duncan Keith (6-55-61, +22), RW Marian Hossa (30-30-60), G Corey Crawford (32-16-10, 2.26, .917, 2 SHO)
Fast facts: Miller had a 10-8-1 record, 2.47 GAA, .903 save pct. and one shutout in 19 games since being acquired from Buffalo. … Kane and Toews reportedly said they are ready to play after missing the last 12 games with injuries. … Chicago won the Stanley Cup in 2010 and 2013. … St. Louis won the first three regular-season meetings, while the Blackhawks won the last two.
Outlook: The Blues have been touted as a Cup contender all season long. But the Blackhawks are the defending champion. So they know how win at this time of year.
Prediction: Blackhawks in 6 games

Series schedule
Game 1 – Thursday at St. Louis, 8 p.m.
Game 2 – Sunday at St. Louis, 3 p.m.
Game 3 – Monday at Chicago, 8:30 p.m.
Game 4 – April 23 at Chicago, 9:30 p.m.
Game 5 – April 25 at St. Louis, 8 p.m.*
Game 6 – April 27 at Chicago, 3 p.m.*
Game 7 – April 29 at St. Louis, TBD*
* If necessary

No. 1P Anaheim Ducks vs. WC2 Dallas Stars
Season records: Anaheim 54-20-8, Dallas 40-31-11
Season series: Dallas won 2-1
Players to watch
Anaheim – C Ryan Getzlaf (31-56-87), RW Corey Perry (43-39-82), C Nick Bonino (22-27-49), C Andrew Cogliano (21-21-42), D Cam Fowler (6-30-36), G Jonas Hiller (29-13-7, 2.48, .911, 5 SHO); Dallas – C Tyler Seguin (37-47-84), G Kari Lehtonen (33-20-10, 2.41, .919, 5 SHO), LW Jamie Benn (34-45-79), D Alex Goligoski (6-36-42, +9), RW Alex Chiasson (13-22-35), C Cody Eakin (16-19-35)
Fast facts: Getzlaf finished second to the Penguins’ Crosby in the league’s scoring race. … Seguin set career highs in goals, assists and points in his first season with the Stars. … Goligoski, the former Penguin, set career highs in assists and points. … Dallas snapped a six-year streak of missing the playoffs under former Sabres head coach Lindy Ruff.
Outlook: The secret to the Ducks’ success isn’t a secret at all. Hiller has to be strong in net, while Getzlaf and Perry have to spark the best forward line on the ice.
Prediction: Ducks in 5 games

Series schedule
Game 1 – Today at Anaheim, 10 p.m.
Game 2 – Friday at Anaheim, 10 p.m.
Game 3 – Monday at Dallas, 9:30 p.m.
Game 4 – April 23 at Dallas, 8 p.m.
Game 5 – April 25 at Anaheim, 10:30 p.m.*
Game 6 – April 27 at Dallas, TBD*
Game 7 – April 29 at Anaheim, TBD*
* If necessary

No. 2P San Jose Sharks vs. No. 3P Los Angeles Kings
Season records: San Jose 51-22-9, Los Angeles 46-28-8
Season series: Los Angeles won 3-1-1
Players to watch
Anaheim – C Joe Pavelski (41-38-79), C Joe Thornton (11-65-76), LW Patrick Marleau (33-37-70), G Antti Niemi (39-17-7, 2.39, .913, 4 SHO), C Logan Couture (23-31-54), D Dan Boyle (12-24-36); Los Angeles – G Jonathan Quick (27-17-4, 2.07, .915, 6 SHO), D Drew Doughty (10-27-37, +18), C Anze Kopitar (29-41-70), C Jeff Carter (27-23-50), RW Justin Williams (19-24-43), C Mike Richards (11-30-41)
Fast facts: The Kings eliminated San Jose in the conference semifinals a season ago, with five games being decided by one goal. … The Kings had identical 23-14-4 records at home and on the road. … Former Otter Jordan Nolan set career highs with six goals and 10 points in 64 games in his first full season with the Kings.
Outlook: The Sharks score goals, but the Kings shut down teams that score goals. Defense is more important at playoff time.
Prediction: Kings in 6 games

Series schedule
Game 1 – Thursday at San Jose, 10:30 p.m.
Game 2 – Sunday at San Jose, 10 p.m.
Game 3 – Tuesday at Los Angeles, 10 p.m.
Game 4 – April 24 at Los Angeles, 10:30 p.m.
Game 5 – April 26 at San Jose, TBD*
Game 6 – April 28 at Los Angeles, TBD*
Game 7 – April 30 at San Jose, TBD*
* If necessary

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