By: Mitchell Fox
An exciting afternoon game ended in favour of the Mississauga Steelheads Saturday, as they walked away with a 6-5 shootout victory against the Sudbury Wolves.
Despite a difficult first period for the Steelheads, they came back in the second and third periods. The shootout was a fitting end to a close game with all of the excitement a fan could ask for.
The Steelheads' victory brought the season series to a 3-3 tie. All six games have now featured at least four goals on one side of the scoreboard.
Here are a few takeaways from some high-scoring Ontario Hockey League action at Paramount Fine Foods Centre.
Riveting game ends in the skills competition
The shootout helped the Steelheads finish off a strong game and weekend, as goals by Porter Martone, James Hardie and Charlie Callaghan paired with a stop by Ryerson Leenders were enough to seal the deal against the Wolves.
Martone and Callaghan each had particularly nice goals, howing some of the flash and skill the Steelheads hold in their most experienced and youngest players alike.
Richmond said it was good to have the rare occasion of having all three shooters score for the team in the shootout.
While ending any game in a shootout, especially one as exciting as this one, may not be the ideal situation, Richmond was happy with the victory. He said the team works a bit on shootouts in practice, and was complimentary of his three scorers, saying they did the type of thing they do in practice.
Wild first period kicks things off
The first period of the game on Saturday brought a bit of everything. A dominant effort for the Wolves brought goals, hits, scraps and a couple of penalties, but perhaps the most notable thing was just how long the opening frame took.
Multiple video reviews seemed to make the game go on and on. First, the second Wolves’ goal by Quentin Musty was reviewed not once, but twice, thanks to the Steelheads challenging for goaltender interference. Then, when Ethan Larmand caught Alessio Beglieri with an elbow, the review for a penalty brought pushed the fans to the back of their seats once again, even adding the trick of a two-minute goaltender interference penalty being swapped for a five-minute major for charging at the last minute.
Alongside all of the craziness, the Wolves were able to take control of the game, taking a 3-1 lead and punishing the Steelheads with a 16-6 shot count. When intermission did eventually come, it would be a turning point in the trajectory of the game, though the craziness would continue in the form of late scraps and seemingly every goal facing at least the thought of a video review.
Steelheads swim upstream after tough start
It would be an understatement to say the Steelheads did not have the start that they wanted to the game, but they found their way back in the second and third periods.
Richmond said the team was giving up too many turnovers on their own blue line and was not paying enough attention away from the puck in the first period.
A 5-5 score in the game would be reminiscent of those woes, but the Steelheads did fight back thanks to much-improved puck possession.
Richmond said after he spoke to the team during the intermission, the team and its players started to get back to the game they wanted to play. The second period featured a comeback to a 3-3 game, while the third period saw an even score but a wave of offence from the Steelheads, making Wolves goaltender Kevyn Brassard make a few highlight-reel saves in the dying moments.
The Steelheads took over for much of overtime, pushing Brassard again and again with rush attempts and cross-crease passes.
MacDonell extends goal-scoring streak
Angus MacDonell kept a hot streak going Saturday afternoon, finding the scoresheet on multiple occasions and contributing all over the ice.
The 17-year-old center had two goals in the game, extending his goal-scoring streak to four games and continuing a strong run of play since being acquired from the Sarnia Sting in early January.
Richmond was complimentary of MacDonell, saying he has played “very well” since joining the team, including being a leader and key piece all over the ice.
On Saturday, MacDonell was also a notable presence on the defensive side of the puck, highlighted by an important shot block in the final minutes of regulation. With the scoring touch he has shown recently and an additional element of physicality, MacDonell is the kind of player Richmond likes.
The Steelheads coach also said MacDonell was a “leader on the ice.”
MacDonell was not the only Steelhead with two goals, as James Hardie also extended his goal-scoring streak to three games, in which he has five goals and two assists.
Begleiri leaves game, Leenders enters, stands tall
Halfway through the opening frame, Alessio Beglieri left the game after taking a high hit from Ethan Larmand. Larmand skated passed the net while the puck was going around the boards and clipped Beglieri across the head with his elbow, earning him a five-minute penalty for charging.
Richmond said after the game that Beglieri suffered a concussion on the play.
Leenders, the 16-year-old, entered the game in Beglieri’s place and put on quite the show. He made 24 saves on 26 shots and kept the Steelheads alive in a few key situations, including a few highlight-reel breakaway saves.
Another of Leenders’ big moments came toward the end of the second period, when he made multiple saves in the dying seconds to keep the score tied. After a breakaway stop, Leenders kicked a quick shot off a faceoff from Nick DeGrazia into the corner with about three seconds left. A shot that many in the arena likely did not see was a strong example of the Steelheads’ goaltender’s strong play on Saturday.
Of course, Leenders was also important in the shootout, coming up with a sprawling save on the Wolves’ first shooter, Alex Pharand.
The Steelheads will hope to hear good news on Beglieri’s prognosis before they take on the Niagara IceDogs at Paramount Fine Foods Centre on Feb. 17.