Niagara 7 Oshawa 3 - Niagara wins series 4-1 (Prediction: Niagara in 7 games)
Okay so it didn't last 7 games but as much as Niagara deserved to win in 5 games, Oshawa was to blame just as much for being undisciplined and taking foolish and needless penalties. That aside, we are going to see the Eastern Conference Championship pretty much everyone expected when Niagara opens up on the road in Mississauga and the two battle it out for the Bobby Orr Trophy. And what a series that will be. But more on that later.
Last night marked the seventh time in 9 playoff games that Niagara has been out shot in a game and their record in those 7 games: 7-0. It really speaks to how well Mark Visentin has played in these playoffs.
It didn't take Niagara long to get the ball rolling when just 40 seconds into the game Dougie Hamilton and Steven Shipley set up Darren Archibald for his 9th goal of the playoffs. Then at 3:22, Archibald was at it again when Jesse Graham and Shipley set him up for his league leading 10th goal with this one coming on the power play to make it 2-0.
Nicklas Jensen and Calvin de Haan would set up Josh Graves for his first to get Oshawa on the board and pull within one at the 8:58 mark. But just 1:35 later Shipley would notch his first of the playoffs to restore the two goal lead when Dougie Hamilton and Andrew Agozzino set him up to make it 3-1 in favor of Niagara.
Ryan Strome would extend the lead to three goals when he scored his 6th of the playoffs from Jason Wilson and Milan Doudera at 14:46 of the first period. At 17:02 and on the power play, Archibald and Wilson would set up David Pacan with his second of the playoffs to go up 5-1. Oshawa would respond with a powerplay goal of their own at 17:48 when de Haan and Boone Jenner set up Christian Thomas for his 9th goal. And that, finally is how the first period would end, with Niagara up 5-2.
Jenner would score his 7th of the post season at 15:05 of the third period to cut the margin to two. The lone assist went to Alain Berger. That would be the lone goal of the period and the score remained 5-3 in favor of Niagara.
Things were looking good for Oshawa as they were beginning to get in on Visentin and create some chances. Almost half way through the period Niagara's Ryan Strome took a double minor for spearing that would put Oshawa on a 4 minute powerplay and a chance to tie the game.
Any attempt at a comeback was just about killed Jensen and Valentine took consecutive slashing penalties 36 seconds apart not only negating their powerplay, but putting them a man down. Agozzino scored his 6th on that powerplay at 11:45 of the third with the assists going to Alex Friesen and Dougie Hamilton, his third of the game. Hamilton now has two 3 point games, three 2 point games and two 1 point games (and only 2 pointless games) in the playoffs.
Pacan would close out the scoring with his 2nd of the game and 3rd of the playoffs from Friesen and Agozzino at 15:08 to make it 7-3.
With 4:29 remaining in regulation, the frustration got to Oshawa's Lucas Lessio when he went after one of the Ice Dogs in the corner and simply lost his cool. Lessio received a double minor for roughing, a 10 minute misconduct and a game misconduct. Lessio will almost certainly face a suspension to begin next season for his actions.
We will preview the Mississauga vs Niagara series once the Western Conference Final is determined. Owen Sound is awaiting the winner of the Saginaw vs Windsor series which is tied at 2 games apiece. Game 5 of that series goes tonight in Saginaw with game 6 back in Windsor on Sunday.