Oshawa - April 6, 2014 - Oshawa Generals’ 2013 rookie sensation, Mitchell Vande Sompel delivered a powerful performance on Sunday night, not at the defenceman position, but rather as a forward as he tallied two assists in a 2-0 shutout victory over the visiting Peterborough Petes. Vande Sompel’s offensive performance was overshadowed by Gens’ goaltender Daniel Altshuller, who recorded 22 saves for his second consecutive shutout and has Oshawa sitting comfortably with 2-0 series lead.
Vande Sompel, who was recently named to the Ontario Hockey League’s (OHL) 1st all-rookie team (as a defenceman) for the 2013-14 season, was a force to be reckoned with all night long. On a nice feed from linemate Michael Dal Colle, Vande Sompel made a no-look backhand pass in the slot between his legs to a waiting Dylan Smoskowitz who quickly wristed the puck past Petes’ starting netminder, Andrew D’Agostini to open the scoring for the Generals at the 2:10 mark of the first period.
The Generals would score the game’s only other goal at 9:57 of the opening frame as Oshawa’s playoff-disciplined enforcer, Justice Dundas, flipped the puck past a Petes’ defender over to linemate Jacob Busch who then wired a shot from the top of the right faceoff circle that sneaked through D’Agostini’s pads.
Many of the 5,820 fans in attendance on Sunday night held their collective breath midway through the first period when Generals’ teammates Will Petschenig and Hunter Smith collided heavily in the middle of the faceoff circle off to the right of Altshuller. Smith managed to hobble off the ice and limp into the Gens’ dressing room with an apparent lower body injury. Things got even more interesting for those fans that noticed the incident when head athletic trainer and equipment manager, Bryan Boyes came out from the team’s dressing room and had a few words for Gens’ head coach, D.J. Smith. Hunter Smith did not return to the game until one minute into the second period and played the rest of the game.
Generals’ veteran forward Smoskowitz put on a slick stickhandling clinic in the third period as he had the patience to outwait every Peterborough skater and skated circles around the competition, but yet could not capitalize on his opportunity to score.
The game got shockingly interesting near the nine-minute mark of the third period when Oshawa stalwart defenseman Will Petschenig capitalized on an opportunity for a little payback on Petes’ forward Nick Ritchie. Ritchie has always been a thorn in Oshawa’s side both in these 2014 OHL playoffs as well as the 2013-14 regular season, often taking liberties on many of the Generals’ defensive corps. Petschenig delivered his ‘just reward’ that appeared to be a solid shoulder-to-shoulder body check on Ritchie that sent him heavily to the ice, much to the pleasure of many of the Oshawa faithful.
The on-ice officials felt the hit was more a check to the head and cost the second-year defenseman Petschenig a trip to the penalty box.
As Ritchie was picking himself up from the ice, an ensuing melee was brewing immediately to the left of Altshuller between a collage of Peterborough and Oshawa skaters. Generals’ assistant captain Scott Laughton was assessed both a five-minute major and match penalty for butt-ending Petes’ diminutive forward, Anthony Stefano.
The Generals’ penalty killing was put to the test with Petschenig sent to the penalty box and Laughton ejected from the contest. Low and behold, the Petes’ could not capitalize on their chances. The special teams on both sides of the ice were aggressive and the crowd at the General Motors Centre showed their appreciation with a standing ovation.
The Petes pulled D’Agostini for an extra attacker at 18:41 of the third period, but it made no difference as the Gens shutdown their opponents to close out the game.
Game 3 resumes on Tuesday night as the Oshawa Generals travel down Highway 115 to face the pesky Peterborough Petes at the Peterborough Memorial Centre. Game time is 7:05 p.m.
View from the Cheap Seats
Peterborough Petes forward Jonatan Tanus did not dress for Sunday night’s contest. Tanus was rocked by Generals’ overage defenseman Colin Suellentrop on Friday night and did not return. Whitby native and Petes’ rookie forward, Rylee McKinnon played in his first OHL game on Sunday night but saw limited action.
Sunday night’s contest was fast-paced and physical to say the least. Altshuller was superb when called upon in the first period.
Undisciplined play was once again one reason for Peterborough’s downfall in Game two. Petes’ defenseman Cameron Lizotte was assessed a slew footing major penalty in the second period as he took down Justice Dundas and did not return. Less than a minute later, first-line centre Hunter Garlent took a selfish and senseless slashing penalty on Daniel Altshuller, putting the Petes’ two-men down for two minutes or less.
It will also be interesting to see if fourth-year centre Scott Laughton will face disciplinary action by OHL Commissioner David Branch on Monday for Laughton’s butt-ending match penalty.
This writer continues to be impressed with the consistent, defensive play and level headedness of Oshawa’s own, Will Petschenig. A third round, 58th overall selection by the Oshawa Generals in the 2011 OHL priority selection, Petschenig has elevated his play over the past two seasons, to now becoming one of Generals’ head coach D.J. Smith, “go-to” guys on defense.
For the love of the game, I remain, Dean Eastman.