Ryan McLeod opens scoring early but Fish fall 6-3 to Niagara
Riding a two-game win streak, the Mississauga Steelheads headed to Niagara Saturday to face one of the hottest teams in the league. Though the third period saw some hope for the Fish, the IceDogs walked away with two points and their last regular season game became their seventh straight victory.
Both teams came out determined and ready to win, but it was Mississauga that got things started. Ryan McLeod kept possession of the puck from one zone to the other and went top shelf to put the Steelheads on the board less than four minutes into the game. Nic Hague and Emanuel Vella picked up the assists on McLeod’s 24th of the season. The Steelheads kept the pressure on and held a lead on the shot clock but Ben Jones was able to get past their defensive efforts and tie the game. The remaining seven minutes saw several opportunities for both Niagara and Mississauga and Emanuel Vella tacked on a few key saves to keep the home team from taking the lead. The period ended with the Fish still leading on the shot clock, 11-10 after 20 minutes.
The penalties started in the second period with a tripping call against Kirill Maksimov. The Steelheads got the first power play of the game but it only lasted about a minute when Mikey McLeod went off for tripping himself. Shortly after Maksimov returned to the ice, Liam Ham took a shot from the blue line that found the back of the net and gave Niagara the lead. Trailing 2-1, the Fish energetically fought the IceDogs off and were given another power play opportunity with Johnny Corneil off for tripping. Nic Hague interfered with Kyle Langdon’s shorthanded breakaway and Langdon was given a penalty shot. The puck got caught up under Vella’s pads but he made the save and play went on. Bert Michnac went off for slashing and Nic Hague sat for tripping a few minutes later with just seconds to go. Neither penalty hurt the Fish in the score and they were able to maintain their lead in shots on goal – 23-18.
Ben Jones took advantage of the Niagara power play 34 seconds into the third period, bringing the IceDogs up 3-1. Johnny Corneil got a goal of his own a couple minutes later. Owen Tippett responded with his 36th of the season. Some rough plays on the ice forced Michael Little and Trent Fox off to refresh before returning, but no penalties were called until a few minutes later. Nic Hague and Johnny Corneil served consecutive time for cross checking and hooking, respectively. Mikey McLeod picked up a shorthanded goal when the puck just snuck over the goal line off his stick and Mississauga’s energy seemed to return. Hoping for a comeback and a big win, the Fish continued taking shot after shot. Kirill Maksimov scored off a play by Johnny Corneil behind Mississauga’s net and the IceDogs extended their lead. Mikey McLeod and Akil Thomas got rough following a faceoff and Trent Fox jumped in to defend his captain. All three were sent off for roughing. At full strength with under 20 seconds left, Vella left the net and Oliver Castleman scored.
The IceDogs took the contest 6-3 and snapped Mississauga’s two-game win streak. The Steelheads will play their last game of the regular season tomorrow at the Hershey Centre. The Fan Appreciation Day game against the Kingston Frontenacs begins at 2 PM.