There was nothing the Mississauga Steelheads could do after finishing almost five long periods fighting off the big and fast Oshawa Generals team who already took the first two games.
It was a battle in the first two periods when at some point the Steelheads led 3-1 but, the end result was General’s John Sterk wristing the winner 11:23 into the second overtime. It erased the 58-save performance Spencer Martin endlessly worked for to seal their first win of the series.
The Generals outplayed the Steelheads in the first two games at Oshawa’s General Motor Centre, shutting them out 6-0 in game one, and in a heart breaker 3-2 overtime loss.
The Steelheads just couldn't find a way to end the game even with Martin’s solid play and abundance of shot blocking, which he says it always expected when playing against the Generals.
“They are a good team and they will have tons of chances with four and half periods of hockey,” Martin said about the Generals. “There will always be a lot of shots.”
The forwards also chipped in what they could do with Sam Babintsev scoring a hat trick, starting it off with his first of the play-offs and on the power play 16:13 into the first period.
Oshawa responded back with Cole Cassels scoring on their own power play 19:11 into the first. The battle was fierce and filled with high energy with each team with 12 shots a piece on net.
In the second, Austin Gerhart helped the Steelheads gain momentum by scoring on a lone effort to the net and sliding the puck passed Daniel Altshuller for a 2-1 lead 5:13 into the period.
The Steelheads took advantage of the Generals’ Josh Brown’s boarding infraction with Babintsev scoring his second of the night and the 3-1 insurance from Greg DiTomaso and Sean Day 7:44 in.
Seconds later, Michael Dal Colle cut the lead to only one and scoring his third of the play-offs with quick passes from Cassels and Alex Lepkowski. At this point, Martin already saw 25 shots –it looked like another long night.
The third period saw more of a scoring frenzy and desperation from both teams with Scott Laughton tying it up 0:41 in. Former Trout, Dylan Smoskowitz added to the score sheet by sliding the puck around Martin less than two minutes after to make it 4-3.
Just over a minute later, Dal Colle scored his second of the game, with Cassel tallying another helper looking to what was a sealed 5-3 lead.
Another opportunity arose with Bradley Latour hitting the bin for slashing, letting Lucas Venuto score one for the Trout on the power play 9:45 in the third period. Babintsev came in clutch again with a third of the night and game’s definite overtime goal with less than two minutes left on the game.
In the first overtime, the teams battled back and forth, but Steelheads couldn't get any clear shots on Altshuller, only shooting four times compared to the Generals’ 13 shots on Martin. The Steelheads also missed a valuable power play opportunity. Altshuller didn't see much action in overtime.
Josh Sterk finally ended the marathon with the heartbreaking game winner that left the blue and white empty from a long and exerting fight.
Martin believes it’s just the work of the hockey gods leading to their bitter results the last two games.
“It’s a matter of a bound here and there. We hit the post last game and today we had a couple of chances the puck bounced,” Martin said. “That’s the hockey gods for you.”
No matter what happened Tuesday night, they know the consequences and Martin said they are ready.
“We have another chance on Thursday, and hopefully it goes our way.”
The Steelheads are now down 3-0 in the series with game four leaning towards the brink of elimination in Mississauga.
The Steelheads shelled out what seemed was everything they had, but the mismatch in size, player coverage, and offensive power, still gave the Generals better odds.
But, they are a confident team, Martin said, and that makes a difference.
“Even though were losing, we are a confident team. I know we are surprising people on how close we are. So we have a lot of confidence going into that game.”