Those red hot Ice Dogs are finally thawing out.
The London Knights took a huge chomp out of Niagara in a 6-1 win to take a two-nothing series lead in the best of seven OHL Final.
Matt Tkachuk notched a hat trick along with an assist, Christian Dvorak added a goal along with four helpers while Victor Mete added a goal with a helper to lift the Knights past the IceDogs – giving them a commanding series advantage heading back to St. Catherines.
Tkachuk left the game after tying it up at 1 when a pile up ensued in the Niagara crease and a helmet-less Tkachuk got up limping and left the ice with some assistance all before returning partway through the 2nd period to notch the eventual game winner along with some insurance.
“Well it’s a 1-1 game so I’m not gonna give up that easy,” Tkachuk said when asked about the injury.
“You can’t give up on your teammates like that. They’re working hard for you so you have to try and do the same for them.”
Tkachuk felt the difference on the scoreboard came down to his team being able to maintain composure.
“It’s the OHL Final, so teams want it bad and emotions get going pretty high and I just think that we were more disciplined tonight and a better team.”
IceDogs Head Coach Marty Williamson noted that the lack of discipline is what cost his team the game.
“Frustration goes on but you can’t let it deter from how you play the game and how we need to play IceDogs hockey,” Williamson said.
“We’re not being able to balance both right now and it’s biting us for sure.”
Looking back at the beginning of the Western Conference Final against the Erie Otters – many analysts had the series pegged at a seven game thriller.
A lot of experts had Erie pegged to win it all but now just two games into the OHL Final – the Knights have outscored the IceDogs 10-to-2, very similar to the output in the Erie series.
How wrong those analysts were.
Goalie Tyler Parsons stopped 24 of 25 shots before giving way to Brendan Burke who saw his first playoff action coming out in relief of Parsons. IceDogs goalie Alex Nedeljkovic was also pulled but under different circumstances after allowing 6 goals on 23 shots.
Nedeljkovic has surrendered 10 goals on 46 shots since the series began.
Both teams will get some assistance from some missing big bodies for game 3. London’s Max Jones and Niagara’s Brendan Perlini are both expected to be back after serving respective suspensions.
Game 3 takes place Monday night in St. Catherines with puck drop at 7PM.