Anthony Luciani (Contributed/Erie Otters)
The Erie Otters’ season ended with a whimper.
Except for a brief surge following Anthony Luciani’s first-period goal, the Otters were no match for Windsor during a 5-1 loss in Game 4 of their Western Conference quarterfinal series, played in front of 2,342 at Tullio Arena on Thursday night.
The top-seeded Spitfires scored four unanswered goals in a span of 20 minutes of the first and second periods to break open a 1-1 tie and convincingly complete a four-game sweep of the eighth-seeded Otters.
Eric Wellwood’s first goal of the OHL playoffs, scored 11:30 into the first period, snapped the tie. Taylor Hall’s goal 4 minutes later – his second of the game and sixth of the postseason – extended Windsor’s lead to 3-1. Scott Timmins scored the back-breaking goal, a short-handed goal 10:20 into the second that built a 4-1 Spitfires’ lead. Adam Wallace followed with his first playoff goal less than 2 minutes later.
Luciani scored the Otters’ lone goal 9:12 into the first, less than two minutes after Hall opened the scoring. Luciani rejoined Erie’s lineup after missing a Game 3 loss on Tuesday with an upper-body injury. Matthew Paton, who sat out Game 3 because he was ill, also played in the season finale. But the Otters played without overage goaltender Adam Courchaine (lower-body). Rookie Ramis Sadikov allowed all five goals on 36 shots in his second start of the series.
Hall led the Spitfires with his two goals while Zack Kassian added three assists. Windsor won the special teams battle. They scored twice on six power-play chances while stopping the Otters on all eight of their opportunities. But Windsor lost center Stephen Johnston, who scored the winning goal in Game 3, to an apparent left leg injury in the third.
* News and notes: The Otters haven’t won a playoff series since beating Sarnia in the 2003-04 season’s opening round. … Since that series, the Otters have lost 16-of-19 playoff games. … They were swept for the first time since losing to London in the 2003-04 conference semifinals. … Defenseman Tyler Hostetter left the game after the first period because of a nagging groin injury. … The club has signed defense prospect Kris Grant, an 11th-round pick in the 2009 OHL Priority Selection. … Before the game, the Otters presented Sara Lunger with a $2,500 check for the Joe Lunger Scholarship Fund. Joe Lunger, who was Villa Maria’s baseball and boys basketball coach and the Otters’ director of sales, died March 18 at the age of 49. … Windsor’s Taylor Hall scored his fifth and sixth goals of the postseason to tie Barrie’s Bryan Cameron for the league lead. Hall tied London’s Nazem Kadri for the points lead with 10.
- Victor Fernandes