The Mississauga Steelheads fell to the Sudbury Wolves by a score of 5-3 in Game Three of their opening round series. Two-point nights from Nick McHugh and Thomas Harley weren’t enough to take down the Wolves who relied on two markers from Quinton Byfield and 39 saves from Ukko-Pekka Luukkonen.
A Sunday night puck drop for Game Three had the scoring going from the outset. The Steelheads PK, excellent in the series thus far, was called upon early. Penalties to Nicholas Canade and Richard Whittaker meant the Trout would have to kill off 44 seconds of a 5-on-3 early. The Steelheads would kill off the first infraction but once back to 5-on-4, Shane Bulitka would find David Levin back door, an inch-perfect cross-crease feed gave Jacob Ingham no chance. The Steelheads would respond just over five minutes later when Thomas Harley found the stick of Cole Schwindt driving towards the net. His deflection beat Luukkonen up high to tie the score at one. Liam Ham would give the Steelheads the lead two minutes later, wiring a shot past Luukkonen. The Steelheads would be unable to get out of the first with the lead however, Quinton Byfield scored his first of the game on the power play with a slap shot from the point. The teams would play a tightly contested first period, the shots 14-11 in favour of the Trout.
The Wolves would win the second period scoring two goals to the Steelheads one. Byfield got on the board again thanks to a back post feed from Blake Murray that again left Ingham with no chance to make the save. The Wolves would double their lead through Blake Murray on the power play, this time Levin turned provider. Murray’s power play marker would be the game winner. A Nick McHugh goal with seconds remaining on the Steelheads power play made it a one-goal heading into the third. The deadline-acquisition flew down the left hand side and beat Luukkonen low to the far side, fitting his shot just underneath the Finnish netminder’s pad. The Trout would be outshot in the second 15-13.
The Steelheads would push for a tying throughout the third period, and they nearly had one early in the frame. Cole Schwindt lofted a shot towards Sudbury’s goal that caught Luukkonen off guard, but the puck would find only the iron. The Steelheads would get two power play opportunities in the final frame, neither proving fruitful. The best chances would come late in the game on multiple scramble plays in front, chances fell to Cole Schwindt and Nick Isaacson but neither could jam home the puck. A final minute push ended in short order when Cole Candella scored a one-in-a-million shot banking the puck into the net off the side wall.
James Richmond on his team’s performance in the past two games, “In Game Two we were the better team and tonight we were real good, but bounces, in playoffs you gotta work harder to make those bounces.”
Some notes from the game; Alan Lyszczarczyk and Thomas Harley extended their playoff point streaks to 3 games. Nick McHugh recorded his first career multi-point playoff game (1G, 1A) in his return to the lineup. Ryan Barbosa recorded his first career OHL playoff point.
The Steelheads will attempt to start their four-game comeback Wednesday night at the Paramount Fine Foods Centre.