On Saturday night, the Oshawa Generals would play host to the Kingston Frontenacs, in a battle of the bottom two teams in the Eastern Conference. The Frontenacs have long since become an afterthought in the OHL Playoff race, but have been playing much better hockey as of late, and Coach Todd Gill has his young club on the same page, perhaps for the first time all season. The Generals meanwhile, continue to chase down one of the final playoff spots in the conference, and enter action just three points behind the Belleville Bulls in the coveted eighth spot.
Both teams were looking to rebound on Saturday night, after both found themselves on the wrong end of lop-sided scores the night before. The Generals lost in Ottawa by a score of 8-3, while Kingston lost on home ice to the Kitchener Rangers by a 9-1 count. The Frontenacs would go right back to their number one starter, Igor Bobkov, for this game, while Oshawa would stay with Kevin Bailie, who played the 3rd period against the 67’s.
I remember noting prior to warm-ups that the crowd in the General Motors Centre seemed exceptionally loud, and the case would prove true throughout the night, as a raucous crowd of over 4,500 would take in what would become an enjoyable night for Generals fans. Kevin Bailie gave the team some much needed confidence early, making a sprawling save off of the stick of Kingston Captain Cody Alcock on an early Fronts powerplay.
The momentum built from the early penalty kill would pay off for the Generals a few minutes later, when Boone Jenner would follow Lucas Lessio to the net, where he would be rewarded with a juicy rebound to open the scoring. Two minutes later, Matt Petgrave would get his first as an Oshawa General, wiring a shot from the point that found a way through everyone, including Bobkov.
In the dying minutes of the period, the Generals would add another when Scott Sabourin would snap a quick shot that seemed to catch Bobkov off-guard. Outshooting Kingston 18-11 in the opening frame, Oshawa would take a three goal lead to the break, and would continue to pour things on early in the 2nd period. They would be rewarded once again just five minutes in, when Boone Jenner would take a feed in the slot and rip a shot just under the bar, beating a bewildered Bobkov, who never saw it. Jenner’s 2nd of the game seemed to really open the floodgates, and a goal three minutes later by Christian Thomas would drive Bobkov from the net, having surrendered five goals on 29 shots.
Jacob Riley would take over between the pipes for the Frontenacs, but would fare no better, as he was beaten for a goal almost immediately. Just 49 seconds after the Thomas goal, Lucas Lessio would score a shorthanded marker to drive the Generals lead to six, and they would make it a seven goal lead only two minutes afterwards, as Nicklas Jensen would rip a shot coming down the wing that fooled Riley.
The Frontenacs would finally crack Kevin Bailie with a minute remaining in the middle stanza, as Darcy Greenaway would take advantage of a rare miscue by the Gens goaltender, sliding the puck through his legs. While the goal gave Kingston a small measure of vengeance to take to the 2nd intermission, they still found themselves down six heading to the final frame.
The opening five minutes of the third period was about as intense as it gets in junior hockey. Kingston would press for another goal early in the frame, opening the period with nearly a full powerplay to work with, but the play of Bailie in goal would keep the Frontenacs at bay. After killing the penalty, the Generals would add yet another goal a minute later, when Sebastian Uvira would get in on the scoring, snapping a quick shot that beat Jacob Riley high glove side. On the proceeding faceoff, the sticks and gloves would be dropped in a fight of the year nominee, as heavyweights Conor Stokes and Emerson Clark would go toe to toe for nearly a minute, bringing the crowd to a fever pitch. Stokes was returning to the Fronts lineup from a lengthy suspension, while Clark was returning to the lineup himself, having missed the better part of a month due to injury.
With the crowd still buzzing from that fight, we’d see another tussle moments later, when Generals rookie John Urbanic would battle with defender Warren Steele. If the crowd wasn’t loud enough after back to back fights and a seven goal lead, they would get even louder, when Uvira would score his 2nd of the game to make it 9-1. Uvira’s two goals would be scored just 91 seconds apart, and Oshawa kept sending wave after wave into the Kingston zone. Josh Graves would get in on the scoring just over two minutes later, putting the Generals into double digits.
At this point, it would have been very easy for the game to spiral completely out of control, but both teams and the officials in charge did an excellent job of ensuring that no wackiness would ensue over the game’s final minutes. The Frontenacs would start to get some pressure in the later part of the 3rd, evidenced by a pair of powerplay goals, first Petr Beranek, then Warren Steele, to cut the lead to 10-3 with four minutes left, but Boone Jenner would complete the hat trick in the final two minutes, scoring another goal on a deflated Frontenacs squad. With the win, Oshawa climbs back to within a single point of the final playoff spot, as Belleville would lose to Kitchener on Saturday night.
Despite the final score of 11-3, the Frontenacs can take solace in the fact that they were even with the Generals in shots for the game, as each team would register 41 shots on the night. Boone Jenner (3G,1A), Sebastian Uvira (2G,1A), and Josh Graves (1G,2A) would be named the three stars. Both teams are right back in action on Sunday, as they wrap up their respective three game weekends. The Frontenacs now return home to Kingston, and will host the Belleville Bulls at 4pm, while the Generals remain in Oshawa, visited by the Barrie Colts at 6pm.