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Monday, March 26, 2012

Game 3: Oshawa 6 Niagara 4

You really didn't believe the Ice Dogs were going to win 16 straight and waltz into the Memorial Cup did you? As the Plymouth/Whalers and Guelph Storm proved, anything can happen in the OHL playoffs.  The 7 seed Storm have jumped out to a 2-0 series lead over the #2 Whalers, a team many picked to go to the OHL finals.  

With the Niagara/Oshawa series, game three was not an aberration.  Loaded with NHL calibre talent, the Generals made two significant changes to their game plan  One was start rookie Daniel Altshuller, who looked a little unsteady at times, rock solid at other points.  The second one was to try and stay away from their undisciplined play that had them in the penalty box 15 times over Games 1 and 2.  The Generals certainly made their trips to the box, handing the Ice Dogs six power plays, but their penalty killing was much better and allowed the Ice Dogs only one power play goal, while utilizing their own power play effectively going 2/5. 

A lot of the buzz on the message boards had written off the Generals prior to game three, but this was a loose bunch who engaged in a spirit game of keep before the game, giving no indication that they were a team that got outscored 14-3 in the first two games of the series.   More commentary on social media seemed to lean towards the theme that the Ice Dogs did not play their A game on Sunday night and "allowed" Oshawa back in the series.  That was only part of the equation.  Clearly, Oshawa came out much more focused, and did not allow the Ice Dogs to dictate the pace of the game and were full value for a victory that gets them right back in the series.  As for the Ice Dogs, lapses in defensive zone coverage are a rarity for the top ranked defensive team but they had two glaring ones.  One was to allow Scott Laughton to waltz uncontested in front of Mark Visentin for the tying goal, and then a number of Ice Dogs missed their assignments scant seconds later allowing Lucas Lessio to roof the eventual game winning goal.   50 shots were fired by the Ice Dogs at Daniel Altshuller, but 24 of them were in the 3rd period.   

Boone Jenner led the way, as a captain should, with a hat-trick, Scott Laughton added a pair and the eminently lovable Lucas Lessio netted the winner during a wild third period that saw each team score three times and also blow a lead.   

Ryan Strome had two for the Ice Dogs, while Dougie Hamilton and Steven Shipley added singles. 

Game four is Wednesday in Oshawa, and we very much have a series.   

Here are the highlights:

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