Cole Carter’s two-goal game catapulted the Mississauga Steelheads to a 3-1 win victory over the Niagara IceDogs in a crucial Eastern Conference matchup. Jacob Ingham would allow only one goal on 30 shots in the victory and Aidan Prueter’s two assists helped the Trout secure their 54th point on the season.
Thursday night’s first period was a scoreless but eventful affair. The Icedogs held the play early on, Jason Robertson’s threatening first shift and a mix-up between Liam Ham and Nicholas Canade called Jacob Ingham into action early. The LA Kings 6th-round pick would be equal to every challenge posed to him by Niagara in the first. The Steelheads offence would eventually wake up, a beautiful spinning pass to Aidan Prueter by Alan Lyszczarczyk was only thwarted by a prepared Stephen Dhillon in the IceDogs goal. The Steelheads even thought they had broken the deadlock on Lyszczarczyk’s one-time effort, Dhillon’s glove hand having appeared to cross the goal line while in possession of the puck. The officials would review the play further only to determine that Dhillon’s trapper had in fact kept the puck in front of the goal line. The teams would head to the locker room knotted at zeros.
The second frame was when the dam in front of Dhillon’s goal would finally break. An early penalty kill by the Steelheads would pave the way for three goals in the second half of the period. Cole Carter’s 30th of the season would start the proceedings, off a faceoff the captain latched onto a loose puck in the slot area and ripped a shot past the IceDogs netminder. The second goal of the period and Carter’s second of the night, would come just moments later, a chipped puck that Aidan Prueter shot towards goal found Carter’s stick yet again. The Captain demonstrated the same poise he employed on his first marker to fire the puck past Dhillon yet again. A nearly perfect frame for the Steelheads was made even better on rookie James Hardie’s 11th of the campaign. Richard Whittaker did the dirty work on the forecheck before dishing to the rookie. The late goal meant the Trout would head to the dressing rooms with a three-goal lead.
In the final frame James Richmond’s team contained the second-place IceDogs in the defensive zone, limiting an offence that came into the night tied for first in Goals For in the OHL, to only 11 shots. The lone blemish in the frame came through Kirill Maksimov’s power-play goal with 10:33 remaining. The Russian forward slotted home his 32nd of the season on a rebound past Jacob Ingham. The Steelheads defence however would not falter again and the fifth-placed Trout ran out the victors upsetting the 2nd-place IceDogs in their rink by a final score of 3-1.
Some notes from the game; Liam Ham was plus-2 and recorded an assist in his return to Niagara, the team that dealt him to Mississauga earlier this season. Cole Carter’s 30th goal continues to add on his best season in the OHL, his best campaign prior to this year being a 24-goal campaign in 2017-18. James Hardie’s 11th goal of the year moves him into ninth in rookie scoring. The Steelheads recorded a whopping 25 shots in the second frame of this contest.
The Steelheads will look to pull off another upset as they are back at home Friday night at 7:00PM against the first-place Ottawa 67’s who travel to the Paramount Fine Foods Centre for the second time this year.