The 67’s grip on their first round loosened a little Monday night as the Barberpoles fell 6-2 to the Niagara Ice Dogs in St. Catharines.
After game three, the series now sits at 2-1 for Ottawa, with game four in Niagara on Wednesday night.
Home ice has proven to be a major advantage so far, with the home teams putting up big points in their respective barns. A fact not unnoticed by 67’s head coach Jeff Brown.
“So far it’s been everything, right?” he said to reporters after game three.
In those three games, the home team has recorded 22 goals so far. The 67’s are responsible for 16 of them. But Monday was Niagara’s turn to put up big numbers.
Billy Jenkins opened up the scoring just 4:31 into the first period. Ottawa goaltender Liam Herbst made a few big saves before Jenkins blasted a rebound past him.
The Ice Dogs went on to score four more unanswered goals before Jeremiah Addison buried a power play goal 2:38 into the third period.
Less than four minutes later, Addison left the puck for Travis Konecny at the boards before skating in front of Niagara goalie Brandon Hope, tipping in Konecny’s shot making it 5-2 Ice Dogs. But it was too little too late.
Brown made the controversial decision to pull Leo Lazarev, who had relieved Herbst to start the third, with over five minutes remaining in the third.
Jenkins, an Ottawa native, wasted no time scoring his second of the game on the empty net making it 6-2 Niagara with 5:20 left to play in the game.
“Well analytics say to take him out at that time,” explained Brown after the game.
“We’ve got a face off in their end. We could set something up.”
Brown also said pulling Herbst in the third was the right choice, even if he doesn’t blame the goaltender for the loss.
“Herbst wasn’t bad tonight,” he said.
“It was just trying to shake the team up a little bit.”
Brown didn’t like the effort put forward by his team Monday night, and he has a clear message for them.
“I think it’s important that our guys understand that we were that bad,” he said.
“If you can’t play on the road in the playoffs, a lot of people are going to take notice.”
The head coach didn’t narrow down a specific area that needs improvement before game four.
“(There are) a lot of things we have to try and tidy up before Wednesday.”
Monday night’s loss guarantees a game five in Ottawa Friday night.
With interviews from Neate Sager (YahooSports) and AJ Jakubec (TSN 1200 Ottawa)