The Owen Sound Attack wrapped up the 2016-17 Ontario Hockey League regular season with an 8-5 win over the Guelph Storm on Sunday, Mar. 19
Led by Zach Roberts’ 1st career hat-trick and a four assist evening by Markus Phillips, the Attack wrapped up the year by picking up their 49th win and putting a stamp on a season that saw them go 49-15-2-2, good for 102 points and the 2nd best record in the OHL.
Also propelling the Attack to victory were Matt Schmalz, who picked up two assists in the win, and Petrus Palmu, whose one goal, two assist outing means he will finish the season with 98 points, good for 4th best in the OHL.
A back and forth first period saw Owen Sound open the scoring by taking advantage of their first power play opportunity of the game just under six minutes in.
After being sprung on a breakaway, Ethan Szypula would draw a slashing penalty to Guelph’s Ryan Merkley. Szypula wouldn’t just draw the penalty though. He also picked up his 11th goal of the season just seconds into the man advantage, snapping the puck up and over Liam Herbst’s shoulder and into the net.
Two Attack defensemen assisted on the play, with Markus Phillips and Sean Durzi drawing the helpers on the game’s opening goal.
Owen Sound’s lead was short lived though.
Less than two minutes after the Attack took the 1-0 lead, Guelph’s James McEwan was able to get a piece of a puck that was floated towards the goal and deflect past Michael McNiven to even things up at one.
But the Attack wasted no time in restoring their lead.
With 9:16 remaining before the first intermission, the fourth line of Zachary Roberts, Nick Pryce, and Matt Schmalz hooked up on a three-on-two that turned into a two-on-one for Roberts and Schmalz.
Roberts was the triggerman on the play, firing a shot into the Guelph cage from outside the face-off dot to make it 2-1 on his 8th of the year.
A feisty Guelph team wasn’t going to give up though, and capitalized on a power play chance of their own with about five minutes remaining in the period.
Ryan Markley knotted things up at two, firing a seeing-eye shot from the point off of the post and in to make it a 2-2 score, a mark that would stand after 20 minutes of play.
The goal scoring exhibition continued when play resumed in the middle stanza, with Owen Sound scoring two goals in very quick succession to quickly jump out to a 4-2 lead.
Santino Centorame restarted the scoring in the 2nd by cutting hard to the net and tipping home a perfect backdoor pass from Petrus Palmu. Ethan Szypula also assisted on the play, that also resulted in a power play opportunity for the Attack after Guelph’s Dmitri Samurokov cross-checked Centorame in the face after the goal.
Owen Sound made good on that man advantage as well, with Jonah Gadjovich scoring on a five-hole squeaker at the 6:48 mark of the frame to make it 4-2 for the visiting side. Petrus Palmu picked up another assist, with Kevin Hancock also helping out on the play.
But the barn-burner pace that that saw the teams trade goals in the opening frame was still there in the 2nd period.
Less than a minute after the Attack opened up their two goal lead, the Storm would get tallies from Matt Hotchkiss and Isaac Ratcliffe just 17 seconds apart to even things up yet again.
The sold out Sleeman Centre was getting their money’s worth on Sunday evening though.
Like they did the two two previous times Guelph tied the game, Owen Sound responded and did so in high flying fashion.
After he was hauled down while making a move around Dmitri Samorukov, Ethan Szypula was able to track down a loose puck before circling the net and finding a wide open Petrus Palmu on the back door for an easy tap in.
Palmu’s 41st of the year came at the 12:51 mark of the period and gave Owen Sound a one goal advantage for the 4th time on the evening and a 5-4 lead after two periods of action.
That one goal margin would hold until there was 4:05 gone in the 3rd and Zachary Roberts was able to tag his 2nd goal of the game.
A calm zone entry allowed Markus Phillips to slide a pass to Roberts who was positioned at the half wall and fired a shot on goal that took a redirection before ending up in the back of the Guelph net.
However, Guelph wasn’t going to roll over, and just before the 3rd period TV timeout the Storm were able to cut into the lead yet again.
A loose puck at the side of the Owen Sound net was poked to Liam Hawel by Isaac Ratcliffe, who was laying on the ice, and Hawel was able to shoot it past Michael McNiven to make it a 6-5 game.
That’s as close as the Attack would let Guelph get though, and goals by Maksim Sushko and Zach Roberts would ice the game, giving Owen Sound an 8-5 win.
Sushko would first put the Bayshore Boys up 7-5 by scoring on a hard snapshot with 15:46 gone in the 3rd, before Roberts put the puck into the empty net for Owen Sound’s 8th goal and his first career Ontario Hockey League hat-trick.
Markus Phillips and Ethan Szypula would register the assists on Sushko’s power play goal, while Phillips and Nick Suzuki picked up the helpers on Roberts’ empty net goal with 2:17 left on the game clock.
Phillips, who had four assists on the afternoon, was named the Mac Taylor Corporation 3rd Star of the Game while his teammate Ethan Szypula was named the game’s 1st star thanks to his one goal, three assist outing. Rounding out the stars on Sunday night was Guelph’s Isaac Ratcliffe, who was named 2nd star after scoring once and adding a helper.
Attack netminder Michael McNiven picked up his 41st win of the year in the game, making 16 saves on 21 shots as the Mark McDade ReMax Shots on Goal finished at 36-21 for Owen Sound.
Owen Sound will now prepare for a first round Playoff series against the Kitchener Rangers that will begin on Friday, Mar. 24 at the Harry Lumley Bayshore Community Centre at 7:30pm.
Tickets for that game, as well as Saturday, Mar 25’s game two, can be purchased at the MacVicar & McComb ReMax Attack Box Office, online at www.attackhockey.com, or by calling 519-371-7452.
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