March 30, 2016

67's pushed to the brink of elimination in heartbreaking loss to the IceDogs

Fourty-six seconds. That’s all it took for Jordan Maletta to score the overtime winner for the Niagara IceDogs. The win gives the IceDogs a commanding 3-1 series lead in the OHL Eastern Conference Quarterfinal and sends a heartbroken-Ottawa 67’s team back to St. Catharines on Friday night on the brink of elimination.
It was a barn burner in every aspect while Leo Lazarev and Alex Nedeljkovic put on a goaltending clinic stopping chances throughout the game at each end of the ice. Lazarev turned aside 28 shots while Nedeljkovic stopped 30.

“What a show these goalies are putting on right now,” said 67’s head coach Jeff Brown. “(Nedeljkovic) is a heck of a goalie and there's a reason he was 7-0 against us before game 3.”

Down 1-0 for most of the game, it wasn’t until the 16:49 mark of the third period that the 67’s were able to solve Nedeljkovic. Capitalizing off of a Josh Ho-Sang minor penalty, Nathan Todd wired a shot from the point and the puck found its way past a screened Nedeljkovic to tie the game at 1.

Ho-Sang received his second consecutive minor penalty on the next shift giving the 67’s an amazing opportunity to take the lead with 2:21 left in the third period. Nedeljkovic and the IceDogs were able to hold on to force overtime.

“It still doesn't feel like we lost, it still feels like intermission,” said 67’s captain Jake Middleton after losing in the extra frame. “It happened so quick and it's so unfortunate for that to happen but you live and learn.”

Jeff Brown thought his team deserved a better outcome and adding that he felt the shot clock was missing a lot for his team.

“All the chances, we deserved a better fate again. We keep saying that in the series,” said coach Brown. “We're in every game. So easily we could be up 3-1 right now and it's so heartbreaking for the kids but whether you win or lose you got to put it behind you.”

“It’s just one game.”

And that’s the same attitude the 1994 Vancouver Canucks had when they found themselves down 3-1 in the Western Conference Quarterfinals against the Calgary Flames. Jeff Brown would know, because he was on that team.

“We were just looking for that spark and Geoff Courtnall wins it for us in overtime in game 5,” coach Brown reminisced. “Then we won in overtime in game 6 and won in (double) overtime in game 7.”

“It's one of those things that we just carried forward through the rest of the playoffs and that's our focus is just one game.”

The 67’s travel to Niagara tomorrow to prepare for game 5 at the First Meridian Centre on Friday night. With their backs against the wall, the 67’s will need to put in a full 60 minutes to force a game 6 back in Ottawa on Saturday night. Like Brown said, it’s just one game.

Game summary here.

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