Mississauga Steelheads lost their last two games, seeping further down the standings as bottom feeders in the Central Division.
They lost 3-1 to their Peel of Region rivals, Brampton Battalion on Feb. 22, and then in search for redemption against their visiting opponents, the Sault Ste. Marie Greyhounds, on Sunday, they lost two leads –resulting in a 4-3 loss. Hounds’ and OHL top scorer, Nick Cousins, was also missing in action, which should've been the grand bonus.
But, Steelheads’ Kristoff Kontos did take advantage of the missing Cousins and scored an early third period power play goal and giving them a 3-2 lead. Soon after at 8:59, Hounds’ Ryan Kirkup redirected a Adam Fritsch shot for his first career goal for a 3-3 tie.
The heartbreaker came at 17:25 with when Fritsch scored his 24th and the game winner. The goal complimented Hounds’ goalie Matt Murray play who saved a solid 28 shots and recorded a win.
Steelheads goalie Spencer Martin saved 22 by the end of the night also with exceptional play.
Even after a nail bitter like the last, Martin stood positive and only praised his team’s efforts.
“It’s a tough loss, but as far as playing well and working hard, I think we did well,” Martin said. “If we bring that effort to a lot more games, we can come out on top.”
The Steelheads are now 25-29, with only 166 goals for compared to their 189 goals against. Their goaltending and blueline haven’t played perfect games, but there is a definite understanding that scoring is a weak point.
Overager forward Riley Brace still leads the fish with 70 points with line mate Dylan Smoskowitz the next to kin with 51; and in third is defenceman Dylan DeMelo with 46 points.
That’s a 19-point gap in between top forwards, with a defenceman as a top three contributor, and with a 23-goal deficit in goals-for compared to goals-against – the offence needs focus.
Martin doesn't point fingers and says he’s pleased with the team’s strategy and feels that if they continue with the hard forechecking and work, they will succeed in the playoffs. The bounces will come their way, Martin said.
The playoffs are only nine games away and if they don’t start improving their holes with the staff on hand, they can see an unexpected drop from the playoff run. Ninth place Peterborough Petes are only six points away from the fish’s seventh spot. It’s a close margin with nine games left.