OHL offense comes alive in 5-1 win
By Josh Sweetland/CHL
Kingston, ON – Three days is a long time to stew over an outcome like Thursday night’s Game 3 of the 2014 SUBWAY Super Series in Peterborough. A 4-0 loss after a physical game with an abudance of scoring chances left the OHL frustrated and searching for answers. On Monday night in Kingston, those frustrations were quelled with the emergence of the offensive execution the CHL has been searching for all series. Multi-point efforts from Max Domi and Josh Ho-Sang fuelled Team OHL to a 5-1 victory over Russia at the Rogers K-Rock Centre in Kingston.
The OHL came with speed and much of the same physicality that presented itself in Game 3, but was able to make the most of its man advantages while getting some timely saves from Mackenzie Blackwood in the crease.
With a buzz in the building in Kingston, the OHL scavenged around the Russian crease frequently in the first, converting twice on 11 shots.
Like the first period on Thursday, Team OHL finished checks with authority and made the Russian defence think twice before moving the puck. Sizeable OHL linemates Jason Dickinson and Nick Ritchie combined to sandwich a Russian defender off the forecheck in the game’s opening minute, drawing a rise from the Kingston crowd before a lengthy stoppage at the next whistle due to glass repairs.
Both clubs strung together some nice offensive chances in the opening half of the period with Carter Verhaeghe denied by Russian goaltender Denis Kostin on a chance down the right wing. Moments later Kostin kicked out the right pad on Ritchie in the slot after North Bay Battalion defender Kyle Wood jumped up into the play to create a quality chance.
Russia had their first period moments as well. Barrie Colts netminder Mackenzie Blackwood was sharp with timely saves off Egor Korshkov and a quick wraparound attempt by Vyacheslav Leshchenko that was thwarted by a toe save. Blackwood had some help too. OHL defender Mitchell Vande Sompel single handedly broke up a two-on-one with a well timed pass block on Vladimir Bryukvin who had an open Leshchenko hustling down the middle.
The offensive silence was broken at 15:30 by the sound of Max Domi rushing through the Russian defence. A fast break through the neutral zone saw Michael Dal Colle connect with Domi at top speed as he split the ‘D’ before flipping a quick release over the blocker of Kostin on the powerplay.
The Arizona Coyotes first round pick wasn’t done there. Domi added another at 18:52 after linemate Nick Ritchie did the lion’s share of the work to gain possession and send a puck goalward, inspiring a rebound for Domi who finished the job for a 2-0 OHL lead.
The OHL carried a strong first period performance over into the second to take a 3-0 lead at 3:15. The powerplay struck again, with Jason Dickinson on the doorstep to tap in a rebound inspired by Chris Bigras’ big point shot.
Russia had an opportunity to wrestle back some momentum with their first powerplay of the night shortly after the Dickinson goal. The OHL penalty kill didn’t shy away from getting in lanes and engaging a Russian powerplay that had gone 3 for 10 through the series’ opening three contests. Big shot blocks from Zach Nastasiuk and Kyle Wood paired with strong goaltending from Blackwood kept Russia off the scoresheet.
Team OHL got back on the offensive after a successful penalty kill. Newly acquired Niagara IceDog Josh Ho-Sang flashed his speed to get hauled down on a break into the Russian zone, generating a penalty shot. Ho-Sang made no mistake with ample time and space to put his abundant creativity on display, beating Kostin on a backhander over the shoulder to give the OHL a 4-0 lead.
A Russian goaltending change wouldn’t stem the OHL’s momentum as Remi Elie finished a check along the far boards, opening himself up to beat Igor Shesterkin on the first shot he’d face at 9:33. Ho-Sang collected his third point of the night with an assist on the play as he curled in around the Russian goal to find a waiting Elie.
The OHL led Russia 5-0 after two periods, outshooting them 27-20.
Russia would get one in the third as Ivan Vereshchagin finally ended Mackenzie Blackwood’s shutout bid with 9:49 to play. The OHL’s impressive 1997-born players would take over from there though, with Kingston Frontenacs power forward Lawson Crouse making some noise along the boards and Oshawa Generals blueliner Mitchell Vande Sompel getting involved in the play. Erie Otters sophomore Dylan Strome made some strong defensive plays in the third to help keep Russia at just one goal on the night.
A 5-1 OHL victory in front of 4,011 at the Rogers K-Rock Centre in Game 4 of the 2014 SUBWAY Super Series saw offensive talents Max Domi and Josh Ho-Sang both turn heads with their mix of speed and skilled puckhandling ability. Mackenzie Blackwood made 31 saves in goal. OHL Head Coach Scott Walker was singing a different, more positive tune after Monday’s outcome. “We got at them with speed tonight and didn’t let their defence stop plays the way they had been in the series to this point,” he said. “Sometimes in the second game when the guys are a little bit looser and more relaxed you’ll see their talents rise to the surface. Every player on this team did something positive tonight, from the veterans right down to the 17 year-olds.”
Josh Ho-Sang recorded all three of his points within six minutes of each other on Monday playing on a line alongside Remi Elie and Jared McCann. He was happy with his performance post-game. “Sometimes the bounces just go your way,” he said. “I was fortunate enough to get a penalty shot and I had a lot of help from my linemates. I think all four lines played with a lot of speed tonight and that translated into success for us.”
The OHL powerplay went 2 for 3 on the night and Russia was outshot for the fourth game in a row as the OHL took the shooting column 43-32.
A big victory keeps the series alive for the CHL with a quick turnaround in advance of Tuesday night’s Game 5 of the 2014 SUBWAY Super Series in Bathurst, New Brunswick. The series sits with Russia holding an 8-4 lead in points with two games remaining against the QMJHL.
Tuesday’s action will be broadcast live on Sportsnet 360, Ontario and Pacific as well as TVA Sports at 7:00pm ET.
For more information including how to purchase tickets please visit www.subwaysuperseries.ca.