By Joel Wittnebel/The Oshawa Express
The Oshawa Generals are off to the second round of the playoffs thanks to a 3-1 victory over the Sudbury Wolves in Game 6 of the series at the Sudbury Community Arena on April 2.
The second round will see the Gens face off against the Mississauga Steelheads, who managed a six-game series win over the Ottawa 67s on Sunday evening.
In Sudbury, the Gens found themselves trailing early in the game as Dmitry Sokolov, who was able to find the back of the net in every game against the Gens, sniped home his league-leading sixth goal of the playoffs to put the Wolves ahead.
However, an odd play would shift the momentum in the Generals’ favour as a shot from Renars Krastenbergs beat rookie goaltender Jake McGrath and went directly through the mesh. The goal wasn’t immediately noticed and Sokolov again gathered the puck and was able to beat Jeremy Brodeur at the other end and put the Wolves up 2-0. Upon review of the play, however, the referee determined that the Krastenberg shot had indeed went in and disallowed the Sokolov marker, evening the score 1-1.
In the third period, Kenny Heuther was able to tip a shot from William Ennis to beat McGrath and give Oshawa its first lead of the game. Captain Joe Manchurek would add the empty netter late in the third period to seal the victory and the series win for Oshawa.
Brodeur stopped 26 of the 27 shots he faced in the game and was a key reason for Oshawa’s success throughout the series, finishing with a 2.17 goals against average and .975 save percentage.
The start of the series came as a surprise to some Oshawa fans as the Gens, depsite finishing 24 points ahead of the Wolves in the regular season standings, fell behind 2-1 in the series. However, resiliency has been something the coaches have touted about their young team all season, and it showed as the team stormed back in the latter half of the series, outscoring the Wolves 8-3 despite a dismal powerplay that only saw three goals in 35 attempts over the course of the six games.
After the first round, Jack Studnick leads the team with seven points while Manchurek and Krastenbergs round out the top spots with six and five points respectively.
The Steelheads will have home-ice advantage as the Central Division winners, despite finishing the season with four fewer points than Oshawa. However, the series will follow a 2-3-2 format with the first two games scheduled for April 7 and 9 in Mississauga, followed by a trio of Oshawa home games on April 11, 13 and 15. Games 6 and 7 will be held in Mississauga on April 16 and 18 if necessary.
In other Eastern Conference news, the Peterborough Petes swept the Niagara Ice Dogs and will face the winner of a Game 7 matchup between the Hamilton Bulldogs and the Kingston Frontenacs on April 4. The results of that game were unavailable prior to press time.
In the Western Conference, the Erie Otters, Owen Sound Atack and the Soo Greyhounds have all moved on, while the Windsor Spitfires and London Knights played a seventh game Tuesday night.