The Oshawa Generals are heading home in control of their OHL Eastern Conference semifinal against the Niagara IceDogs.
The Generals have reeled off three-straight wins and now have the IceDogs on the brink of elimination after a 3-1 victory, Apr. 13, at the Meridian Centre in St. Catharines.
Oshawa leads the best-of-seven series, 3-2, and can advance to the conference finals with a win back on home ice, Apr. 14.
Kyle Kyser was a standout in goal once again for the Generals, making several highlight-reel stops en route to making 36 saves.
IceDogs coach Billy Burke thought his team played well for the most part, but some key turnovers and Keyser’s outstanding play proved to be the difference.
“We slowed play down and that hurt us, and it went into their hand a bit,” Burke said after the game. “Their goalie played great, for sure. Yeah it’s not ideal, obviously the guys really wanted this one.
“The heart was there for sure. In terms of the game in the second, I thought some turnovers were the story and then a push there at the end.”
After a scoreless opening period, Oshawa finally broke the scoreless draw late in the second on a goal by Cole Resnick. The second year forward already has four goals in 10 playoff games after recording just six in 62 regular season games.
Serron Noel rushed into the Niagara zone down the right side and slid it back to Resnick in the left face-off dot and the winger wired a shot over the left shoulder of Niagara goaltender Stephen Dhillon.
Former Generals centre Jack Studnicka tied things up a little more than three minutes into the third period when he one-timed a feed in the slot from Akil Thomas past Keyser.
Oshawa would get the winner less than four minutes later on the power play. Brandon Saigeon came around from behind the net and found Danil Antropov in front and the Antropov ripped it over Dhillon.
Nando Eggenberger scored into an empty net with 20 seconds remaining to seal the win.
“At this point there’s not a lot to dwell on,” Burke said of the loss “You address the turnovers and everything else is just play. You can’t be squeezing sticks. The guys wanted it so bad that they were squeezing their sticks.
“They were a little hesitant, because they wanted to get it done so bad.”
Oshawa can advance to face the top-seeded Ottawa 67’s in the conference final with a win in Game 6.
For the IceDogs, they just need to find a way to get it to Game 7 the following night back in St. Catharines. The good news is that they’ll have Jason Robertson back in the lineup after serving his one-game suspension. The OHL scoring champion has five goals in the four games this series.
“We just got to go in loose, in a good way.” Burke said. “We got to go in and win one game and get it back here. We have a great group. We’ll have our full lineup for the first time all year and now it’s going to be exciting.
“I believe in these guys that were going to go do it and get it back here for Game 7.”
Puck drop for Game 6 at the Tribute Communities Centre is 7:05 p.m.
photo: Kyle Keyser was outstanding once again, stopping 36 shots to put the Oshawa Generals a win away from the Eastern Conference final after a 3-1 win over the Niagara IceDogs, Apr. 13, in St. Catharines. Terry Wilson/OHL Images