The Oshawa Generals are off to the OHL’s Eastern Conference finals.
Brandon Saigeon recorded a goal and assist and goaltender Kyle Keyser was his usual stellar self as the Generals eliminated the Niagara IceDogs with a 3-2 win, Apr. 15, at the Tribute Communities Centre.
After dropping the opening two games of the best-of-seven Eastern Conference semifinal series in Niagara, the Generals roared back to win four straight and will now face the Ottawa 67’s, who finished first overall in the OHL standings.
After making short work of the Peterborough Petes in five games in the opening round, the Generals faced a Niagara club that finished second in the conference, three points ahead of Oshawa.
Things looked grim early on in the series for Oshawa after Niagara took the opener 3-2 in overtime and then dominated the Generals in a 5-1 Game 2 victory where they outshot the visitors, 42-25.
Oshawa found new life at home, outscoring Niagara, 11-4 in a pair of wins and then grabbed control of the series with a 3-1 win on the road in Game 5.
With a chance to clinch the series at home, the Generals came through on the power play late in the first to open the scoring. Brandon Saigeon took a feed down low from Allan McShane and the overager was stopped initially by goaltender Stephen Dhillon on the short-side attempt before he swatted home his own rebound.
Keyser, who made few, if any, mistakes in the series, made one just 47 seconds into the second to help Niagara even things up. The veteran goalie went behind his net to play the puck and slid it right to Niagara’s Ben Jones, who spotted an open Ivan Lodnia in front and the former Erie Otter slid it into the open left side of the net before Keyser could get all the way across.
The power play came through once again for the Generals and helped them restore their lead a little more than six minutes later on a blistering shot from the point by Giovanni Vallati. Kyle MacLean collected a rolling puck along the boards and slid it across to Vallati, who hammered a one-timer just inside the blue line past the glove of Dhillon.
Nando Eggenberger made it a 3-1 contest late in the same frame on a beauty feed from MacLean. The Oshawa captain carried the puck into the IceDogs end and spun around along the boards before spotting a streaking Eggenberger and sliding a cross slot pass that the Swiss import wired past Dhillon for what proved to be the game-winning goal.
Lodnia got the IceDogs back within one early in the third when he swatted a pass out of the air, walked in and beat Keyser.
The Generals goalie put up a wall after that. The IceDogs outshot Oshawa 15-9 in the final frame, but Keyser held strong to finish off the upset.
Oshawa will have a couple of days to rest before opening up the conference final in the Nation’s Capital on Apr. 18. Puck drop at TD Place will be 7 p.m.
ICE CHIPS: The IceDogs loss brought an end to the season for former Oshawa captain Jack Studnicka and overage defenceman Matt Brassard. Both players were dealt to Niagara at the trade deadline back in January. . . NHL Central Scouting released their final rankings for the upcoming NHL Entry Draft and Eggenberger was listed at 127 among all North American skaters. . . The Generals will have four of their prospects competing at the OHL Gold Cup, May 2-5, in Kitchener. Forwards Brett Harrison, Oshawa’s 16 overall pick in this year’s OHL Priority Selection, Daniel Michaud, Cooper Way and goaltender Patrick Leaver will take part in the annual showcase featuring the top under-16 talent in Ontario.
photo: Overager Brandon Saigeon had a goal and assist to lead the Oshawa Generals to a series clinching 3-2 win over the Niagara IceDogs, Apr. 15, at the Tribute Communities Centre. Saigeon and the Generals will now face the Ottawa 67’s in the Eastern Conference final, which starts Apr. 18 in the Nation’s Capital. Terry Wilson/OHL Images