Connor Brown recorded his first career hat trick, and eight teammates also recorded points. But the Erie Otters couldn’t hold onto an early three-goal lead, as they lost to Sault Ste. Marie 6-5 in a shootout in front of 2,196 at Erie Insurance Arena Friday night.
Andrew Fritsch scored the winning goal in the fourth round of the shootout for the Greyhounds (8-7-0-0). J.P. Labardo had three assists and scored the lone shootout goal for the Otters (4-7-1-2), which lost for the second time in three shootouts this season. Darnell Nurse scored two goals and Nick Cousins had three assists for the Greyhounds.
The No. 1 line of captain Brown, No. 1 pick Connor McDavid and overager Labardo sparked the Otters’ surge to a 3-0 second-period lead. Brown recorded a natural hat trick – his team-leading eighth, ninth and 10th goals of the season. Labardo assisted on all three goals while McDavid had an assist to extend his point streak to 13 straight games.
Brown scored on the power play off assists from McDavid and Labardo to snap the scoreless tie 9:07 into the game. Brown scored again on the power play, this time from Adam Pelech and Labardo, five minutes later to send the Otters into the second period with a 2-0 lead. Brown completed the natural hat trick – his first OHL hat trick – on a rebound of Labardo’s shot 48 seconds into the second.
The Greyhounds sliced Erie’s lead to 3-2 with two second-period goals – from Nurse at 4:03 and Nick Halagian with 7:52 left.
Connor Crisp redirected Spencer Abraham’s shot past goaltender Matt Murray for a 4-2 Otters’ lead with 5:50 left in the period. But the Greyhounds responded by scoring twice early in the third to tie the score at 4. Former Otter David Broll scored from in front to pull the Greyhounds within a goal at 4-3 at the 2:15 mark. Colin Miller‘s first goal of the season, scored on the power play, tied the score at 4 at the 5:45 mark, only to have the Otters regain the lead with their third power-play goal of the night.
Stephen Harper scored on assist from Luke Cairns to give the Otters a 5-4 lead with 11:37 left. Yet the Greyhounds rallied again to tie it at 5 with 6:25 left on Nurse’s second goal of the game. Then the Greyhounds rebounded from an early deficit in the shootut to claim the win.
- Victor Fernandes