ST. CATHARINES -- The 67's have two games to figure out how to win at Jack Gatecliff Arena -- or else fans won't see Brian Kilrea coaching at the Civic Centre again.
Marco Insam scored twice and added an assist last night for the Niagara IceDogs, who won 5-3 to take a 2-1 lead in their best-of-seven OHL Eastern Conference quarter-final.
The IceDogs opened the scoring with a power-play marker 4:26 into the first period, when Alex Friesen scored on a hard shot through a screen.
Niagara made it 2-0 at 9:58 when Insam picked up a loose puck in front of the net and snapped a shot past 67's goalie Chris Perugini.
Perugini stopped Matt Sisca after a brutal Ottawa give-away with 2:05 left in the first, but Sisca had another chance 13 seconds later and didn't miss, banging a rebound into a wide-open net.
That was enough for Kilrea, who pulled the 17-year-old Perugini in favour of Adam Courchaine to start the second period.
That seemed to spark the 67's. Thomas Kiriakou came out from behind the net and slid the puck past Niagara goalie Jeremy Smith to get Ottawa on the board at 1:11.
The 67's power play, which had four goals in the first two games of the series, had a couple of opportunities midway through the second, but gave up as many good chances as they had.
Effective penalty killing sparked the IceDogs and if not for the stellar play of Courchaine, Niagara could easily have put away the game in the second.
Courchaine's spectacular play helped Ottawa kill a two-man advantage for 1:26 late in the frame, but Niagara cashed in on another power play when Insam tipped in a point shot from Alex Pietrangelo with 11 seconds left in the second.
Ryan Martindale got the 67's to within two 7:40 into the third when he converted a perfect behind the net feed from Tyler Toffoli.
Niagara regained the three-goal cushion with 4:44 left when rookie Freddie Hamilton converted a feed from Chris DeSousa.
Toffoli made it 5-3 with a power-play goal with 57 seconds left.
The 67's are 0-5 at cosy Jack Gatecliff Arena (2,671 were in attendance last night), where the IceDogs relocated last season.
The 67's will need to win at least one of the next two games in the 2-3-2 series -- Game 4 goes tomorrow (7:30 p.m.), Game 5 on Saturday (7 p.m.) -- to give the retiring Kilrea another chance to coach at home.