Brett Thompson picked the perfect time to score his first OHL playoff goal.
The veteran winger scored 8 minutes, 51 seconds into overtime to seal the Erie Otters’ 6-5 win in Game 6 in front of 4,059 at Tullio Arena on Sunday. His goal evened the series at 3-3 and forced Game 7 on Tuesday at 7:05 p.m. at WFCU Centre in Windsor, Ontario.
Yet any momentum from the Otters’ 6-5 overtime win in a must-win Game 5 didn’t carry over into the opening period of another must-win game. The Spitfires gained control with three straight goals.
Tom Kuhnhackl scored arguably his easiest goal of the season 8:32 into the opening period. He leisurely slipped a rebound into an open net while players from both teams, including Otters goaltender Ramis Sadikov, laid on the ice after a scramble for the puck to the left of the Otters’ net.
Then the Spitfires scored twice – both by Taylor Carnevale – in less than 3 minutes late in the period to take a commanding 3-0 lead. He fired a rebound past Sadikov a second or two before the net kicked off its supports for a 2-0 lead with 5:09 left. He scored again with 2:38 left for his third goal of the series.
However, all but one of Windsor’s three-goal lead vanished in a 26-second span of the second.
Anthony Luciani scored off an assist from Phil Varone to move the Otters within 3-1 at the 3:29 mark of the period. Then Brett Cook’s rebound of Brett Appio’s shot sliced Windsor’s lead to 3-2 at 3:55.
Luciani had two goals and two assists to give him six goals and eight points in the past two games. He leads the OHL with seven playoff goals. Varone had a goal and three assists after totaling a goal and four assists in Game 5. They teamed with Thompson to produce four goals and nine points in the win.
The Spitfires responded 32 seconds later on Stephen Johnston’s goal, which extended their lead to 4-2.
But Luciani continued his torrid stretch with his second of the game, sixth in the last two games and a OHL-leading seventh of the playoffs to move the Otters back within 4-3 with 1:07 left in the period.
The Otters tied it on the power play, as Varone’s point shot eluded Campbell 6:49 into the third period. Derek Holden (two assists) and Thompson had the assists on the goal. The Spitfires rallied late to tie the score for the second straight game. This time, Adrian Robertson scored on a rebound through a crowd in front of Sadikov to tie the score at 5 with 3:59 left.
Yet Thompson’s goal kept the Otters’ playoff hopes alive. The teams combined for 120 shots on goal, with the Otters’ 67 shots setting a new franchise playoff record.
- Victor Fernandes
No. 4 Windsor vs. No. 5 Erie
Game 1 – Erie 2, Windsor 1
Game 2 – Windsor 4, Erie 3 (2OT)
Game 3 – Windsor 6, Erie 2
Game 4 – Windsor 7, Erie 4
Game 5 – Erie 6, Windsor 5 (OT)
Game 6 – Erie 6, Windsor 5 (OT)
Game 7 – Tuesday at Windsor, 7:05 p.m.
Series tied 3-3
* If necessary
Otters 6, Spitfires 5 (OT)
Windsor 3 1 1 0 — 5
Erie 0 3 2 1 — 6
1st Period — 1. Windsor, Tom Kuhnhackl 3 (Khokhlachev, Carrick), 8:32. 2. Windsor, Taylor Carnevale 2 (Rychel, Ellis), 14:51. 3. Windsor, Carnevale 3 (Robertson, Posa), 17:22. Penalties — Shields (E) high sticking, 15:10.
2nd Period — 4. Erie, Anthony Luciani 6 (Varone), 3:29. 5. Erie, Brett Cook 1 (Appio), 3:55. 6. Windsor, Stephen Johnston 4 (Ryan), 4:27. 7. Erie, Luciani 7 (Shields, Holden), 18:53. Penalties — Appio (E) roughing, 7:28; Ryan (W) goaltender interference, 11:49.
3rd Period — 8. Erie, Phil Varone 3 (Holden, Thompson), 6:49 (pp). 9. Erie, Derek Holden 2 (Luciani, Varone), 10:56. 10. Windsor, Adrian Robertson 2 (Kassian, Ryan), 16:01. Penalties — Ellis (E) holding, 6:39; Cazzola (E) roughing, 10:13; Robertson (W) roughing, 10:13.
Shots on goal — Windsor, 29-10-10-4—53; Erie, 30-15-14-8—67.
Overtime — 11. Brett Thompson 1 (Varone, Luciani), 8:51. Penalties — None.
Goaltenders — Windsor, Jack Campbell 3-1-2 (67 shots, 61 saves); Erie, Ramis Sadikov 2-2-1 (53 shots, 48 saves).
Power plays — Windsor (0-2), Erie (1-2).
Referees — Bob Langdon, Scott Ferguson. Linesmen — Kevin Hastings, Jesse Wilmot.
Attendance — 4,059.
* Brett Thompson, Otters (GW goal, assist) ** Phil Varone, Otters (goal, three assists) *** Anthony Luciani, Otters (2 goals, 2 assists)