Charlie Burns Stops 16/17 in Relief, Otters Fall Short in Comeback Bid
Sarnia, Ontario – In the middle of their weekend road three-in-three, the Erie Otters would look to snap a two-game slide taking on a familiar – and picking-up-steam – Western Conference foe. Although sidelined for the time being, the Otters final trip to the Progressive Auto Sales Arena in Sarnia would be a night celebrating legendary Sting goaltender and current Otters netminder Ben Gaudreau. In his final regular season trip to the arena he’d called home for his entire OHL career prior to October 2023, the organization would spotlight “Big Ben” in a Overage Recognition-esque evening. Looking to feed off the energy of the celebration of their goaltender, Erie would look to stave off a potential four-point swing minded Sarnia team in the season-series finale.
In the span of four minutes, the Sarnia Sting would strike thrice to jump up to a 3-0 lead. After a Sam Alfano roughing penalty, Tyson Doucette (17, PPG) would open the game’s scoring 7:11 into the contest on the man-advantage. A few minutes later, it would be a pair of goals from Sean Doherty (3,4) just :20 apart. In the closing five minutes, Erie would appear to have a response from overage defenseman Owain Johnston (4), but after a coach’s challenge, the goal would be waved off for goaltender interference. Without the goal, Erie would have to find motivation and momentum from elsewhere headed into the second, down 3-0 and being outshot 11-10.
Allowing the fourth goal just :55 into the period off of Sarnia’s first shot, the Otters would find themselves in a 4-0 hole early in the middle frame. A goaltending switch would be made following this, as Charlie Burns would come in relief for Erie, and he would provide the spark Erie would need. After that goal from Sarnia, the Otters would button down and heat up – with Burns stopping all eight shots faced, and Erie firing 20 of their own. While looking to find the offensive spark it needed – with another potential goal turning out not to be in Erie’s favor – the Otters would finally find their puck luck late. Bruce McDonald would force a turnover, turn up ice a two-on-one with Wesley Royston (3), who would convert for the first Otters goal with 1:29 left in the period. Just over a minute later, Sam Alfano (18) would put his head down and drive the net to create the second goal for Erie, and give Erie a fighting chance in the third. Erie would trail 4-2 after 40, but outshoot the Sting 30-20.
Playing spoil sport early in the third after a number of impressive saves by Burns, Easton Wainwright (8, GWG) would put the fifth goal on the board for the Sting 5:10 into the last frame. Erie would respond as Dylan Edwards (10) would give Erie its hope back with 7:55 gone by. The goal would see Edwards hit double-digit goals in 20 games played. With an empty-net and a power play fading, Spencer Sova (14, PPG) would make it a one-goal game for the Otters for the first time since they trailed 1-0. Erie would play aggressive and desperate in the offensive end in the closing minute, but a slow roller into the empty-net would seal the Otters fate in a 6-4 loss. Despite a 16/17 save night for Charlie Burns, the Otters would drop their third-straight game.
The road trip closes for the Erie Otters as they travel to Saginaw on Saturday, closing out the West Division swing. Erie will then return home on Wednesday, February 14 against Niagara, travel to Guelph for the final time this season on Friday the 16th, and return home for the highly-anticipated Mascot Mania (pres. by Chick-fil-A) to celebrate Otto’s birthday party with all his friends! The first 1500 fans in the arena will receive an Otto Bobblehead (pres. by Rebich Investments). The “week” closes for Erie on Monday afternoon for Canada’s Family Day, making their only trip of the season to Brantford against the Bulldogs.