Erie Otters edge London Knights in OT

There is something about overtime that the Erie Otters really enjoy.

It could be the three-on-three aspect of it.

It could be the desperation factor that it brings as they chase a playoff spot in the Western Conference.

Whatever it is, it helped them to beat the London Knights 4-3 in OT on Friday night at Budweiser Gardens.

Jamie Drysdale, the fourth overall pick in the 2018 OHL Priority Selection, took a pass and scored just 19 seconds into overtime to give Erie their eighth victory in OT this year.

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The Knights had fought their way back from a 3-1 first-period deficit, getting goals from Matvey Guskov in the second period and from Alex Formenton in the third. Tonio Stranges scored the other London goal.

Luke Evangelista nearly scored his first OHL goal for the Knights in the second period, but a review ruled the puck hit the inside of the post and stayed out of the Otters net.

London outshot Erie 29-26.

The Knights sit four points ahead of the Greyhounds for first place in the Western Conference. London does have a game in hand.

READ MORE: London Knights playoff tickets on sale Feb. 15

Key plays

The London Knights scored first in the game thanks to Nathan Dunkley and Tonio Stranges. Dunkley fed Stranges in front on a 2-on-1 and Stranges picked up his fourth point in two games.

The Otters’ response was key to how the rest of the game went. Chad Yetman scored to tie the game just a minute and seven seconds later and Erie added a short-handed goal from Joseph Mack and an even-strength goal by Maxim Golod to lead 3-1 through 20 minutes.

That had the Knights battling back the rest of the way. A goal by Matvey Guskov (his third in two games) and then a power play goal by Alex Formenton with less than ten minutes remaining in the third period did the trick, but Jamie Drysdale scored on a breakaway 19 seconds into overtime to win it for the Otters.

Jamie Drysdale scores the overtime winner for the Erie Otters.

Jim Van Horne/980 CFPL

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Sanctions against Niagara

Following a third-party investigation, it has been ruled that the Niagara Ice Dogs violated Ontario Hockey League player recruitment policies. Because of that ruling, the OHL has levied a $250,000 fine against Niagara and the Ice Dogs will forfeit their first-round draft picks in the 2019 and the 2021 OHL Priority Selections. OHL Commissioner David Branch stated, “The League takes our commitment to our players and their player experience very seriously, which includes a fair and competitive on-ice experience among all teams… When a club ignores these guidelines, significant sanctions are required.

Niagara released a statement saying, “All current Niagara Ice Dogs players and hockey operations staff have no involvement in the sanctions assessed today by the Ontario Hockey League. An appeal will be filed. Therefore, no further comment will be made.”

READ MORE: Around The OHL: Talking hockey culture and mental health with Brock McGillis

Friday Knight

The Knights are 16-3-2 on Friday nights in 2018-19. London has made Friday night their regular weekly home date dating back to when the franchise played out of the London Gardens (later London Ice House). They have only been away for two Friday games this season. One was an overtime loss in Ottawa. The other was a 5-3 victory over the Wolves in Sudbury. London will play in Kitchener and in Sault Ste. Marie on two separate Friday nights before the end of the year.

Winning and losing

The Sudbury Wolves saw their nine-game winning streak stopped by the visiting Soo Greyhounds on Friday night. Goalie Ukko-Pekka Luukkonen has been a key to Sudbury’s season. The Wolves are 30-8-1-1 when he plays in a game for them. They are 4-9-1 when he doesn’t. Luukkonen is a Buffalo Sabres prospect. Buffalo selected him in the second round of the 2017 NHL Entry Draft. The Greyhounds made life tough on Luukkonen. He was pulled after allowing eight goals in a 10-4 loss.

The Ottawa 67’s made it 13 straight games without losing in overtime. The 67’s defeated the Hamilton Bulldogs 8-1 on Friday to improve to 12-0-0-1 in February. Ottawa’s last regulation losses came back-to-back against the London Knights and the Guelph Storm on February 2 and 3. The 67’s currently sit in first place overall in the OHL standings with 89 points.

READ MORE: London Knights return home, knock off the Guelph Storm 6-1

Up next

London heads to Erie on Sunday to finish their home-and-home series with the Otters. The game will be the fifth one between the clubs this year. It begins at 4 p.m. on Sunday. Coverage on 990 CFPL gets underway at 3:30 with the pre-game show. The Knights will go to Mississauga on Family Day Monday. In the only other meeting between London and the Steelheads this season, the Knights got three-point performances from Adam Boqvist and Alex Formenton and beat Mississauga 7-4. The pre-game show will start at 1:30 p.m. on Monday on 980 CFPL, at http://www.980cfpl.ca and on the Radioplayer Canada app.