Former Steelhead Murdaca Leads Otters to 4-1 Victory
With an eleven-game winning streak under their belts, the playoff-bound Erie Otters traveled to Mississauga to take on the Steelheads–who were looking for valuable points in the late-season playoff hunt. In net, Erie goaltender Joseph Murdaca faced the team that traded him earlier this season, making 19 saves on 20 shots as the Otters cruised to a 4-1 victory.
Both Erie and Mississauga are known for their quick, attacking style of plays, but neither team was able to get the upper hand in the first period. Though there were several scoring chances at each end, Erie’s Murdaca and Mississauga’s Jacob Ingham easily turned aside the shots they faced, and the two teams left for the first intermission tied 0-0.
The beginning of second period looked to be more of the same: neither team managed to get on the board until midway through the period, when Erie’s Alex DeBrincat surprised Ingham with a hard shot from the slot to make it 1-0. It was DeBrincat’s 48th goal of the season. Then, with the Otters’ offense surging, Jordan Sambrook threw the puck on net from center ice–the puck managed to elude Ingham and rocketed into the back of the net, giving Erie the 2-0 lead. Then, the Otters’ offense began to take over: Warren Foegele drove hard to the net with the puck and put it past the goaltender to give Erie a 3-0 lead just before the second period ended. The Otters dominated in the shot department through the first two periods, outshooting the Steelheads 22-13.
The Steelheads managed to get on the board early in the third: Nic Hague’s point shot was deflected past Murdaca by Jacob Cascagnette to pull the Steelheads to within two goals. Mississauga native and Erie captain Dylan Strome rifled a shot past Ingham shortly thereafter, however, to regain the three-goal lead for the Otters. Mississauga was unable to get past Erie’s depth through the rest of the period, and the Otters defeated the Steelheads 4-1.
For Erie, Alex DeBrincat scored a goal and an assist; Mississauga native Dylan Strome scored a goal; former Steelhead Joseph Murdaca made 19 saves on 20 shots to defeat his old team; and Kris Knoblauch secured his 200th career victory as the Otters’ head coach.
Jacob Cascagnette scored Mississauga’s lone goal, and OHL rookie Jacob Ingham made 31 saves on 34 shots in the loss–including a penalty shot save on OHL leading-scorer Alex DeBrincat.
The Otters host the Steelheads in Erie to complete the brief home-and-home series on Saturday, February 17.