Spence Scores Pair In Hard-Fought Battle in London
London, Ontario – The more things change, the more they stay the same. Less than a week after a thrilling Shootout victory over the London Knights at the Erie Insurance Arena, the Erie Otters would make their final trip of the season to London in the penultimate game of the season series. This battle at the Budweiser Gardens would be bigger than most in recent history, as Erie would come in with a chance to secure themselves as winners of the season-series over the Knights. Erie had won three of the season’s four contests between the two coming into the evening showdown.
A surprisingly defensive start to the game would not see any shots officially recorded in the opening five minutes of the game. Goals, however, would amount in the opening frame. 8:20 into the period, Ruslan Gazizov (20) would snipe a shot in from the bottom of the right circle to open London’s scoring. :36 later, Max McCue (21) would make history repeat itself with the exact same set up and shot to give London a 2-0 lead. From here, Erie would begin its momentum swing, as the next five shots – and goal – would belong to the Otters. With a rising shot from Pano Fimis (16) with just under five minutes remaining, Erie would get on the board. A power play opportunity in the closing minute would look to put Erie in a position to knot things up, but triumph would turn to tragedy as Easton Cowan (21) would turn a loose puck in front into a shorthanded goal. After 20 minutes of play, Erie would trail 3-1 and 11-6 in shots, with 1:11 of power play time remaining when the second would start.
The shorthanded phenomena would continue in the second period, as the lone two goals of the frame would come when the respective teams were down a man. It would begin with Malcolm Spence (13) for his fourth shorthanded goal of the year 2:20 into the new period to make it 3-2. Later on in the period, after a four-on-three turned into a five-on-four, a misplayed puck in the Otters’ defensive end would lead to a shorthanded goal for Denver Barkey (26) to put the Knights back up by a pair through 40 minutes. Erie would outshoot London 10-8 in the period, but remain down in a 4-2 game.
Erie would give a real, honest, hardworking effort in the final frame, starting with a second-straight goal from Malcolm Spence (14) to put Erie within one with over 16:00 to go. The Otters would fight and work to move toward their offensive end, but London would play keep away just long enough to keep Erie out of the offensive end consistently. Jacob Gibbons would stop all nine shots faced in the period, but with the net empty in the final minutes, Ruslan Gazizov (21) would get the empty-netter to send Erie home empty-handed, 5-3. Erie maintains a 3-2 series lead.
Erie will take the return trip home for a pair, hosting Kitchener on Saturday night for Blue & White Night (pres. by Penn State Behrend) where the Otters will don specialty PSB-inspired jerseys, and then the Barrie Colts on Monday for the makeup date of January 10’s postponed Mental Health Awareness Night (pres. by NAMI Erie County) and Winning “Wednesday” (pres. by Widget Financial). Erie will then hit the road for a three-in-three in Windsor/Sarnia/Saginaw next weekend.