The 67’s played with fire and eventually got burned, as Ryan Spooner and Sean Jones each scored in a shootout to seal a 6-5 Kingston Frontenacs win in front of a sellout crowd of 9,862 at the Rona Centre Sunday afternoon.
It was only fitting that it took a shootout to declare a winner in a game that featured just about everything — 10 goals, a missed penalty shot by Tyler Toffoli, a spirited fight between heavy hitters Dalton Smith and Connor Stokes, and a steady parade to the penalty box on both sides.
The Fronts took full advantage of the numerous opportunities awarded them on the power play, scoring a pair of goals in the first period against the OHL’s top-ranked penalty-killing unit and adding another goal in the third that came five seconds after an Ottawa penalty expired.
“Nobody likes losing, but we could have quit at 4-2. We had lots of excuses (missing five regulars with injuries), but guys kept coming and coming,” said coach Chris Byrne. “We don’t like losing, but it was a great effort. The fans got their money’s worth.”
Ottawa clawed its way back from deficits of 2-1, 4-2 and 5-4, and each time it did, it was up to clutch scorers Toffoli and Shane Prince to net the tying goal.
But when it came to the shootout, both snipers came up empty against Philipp Grubauer, while Kingston shooters went 2-for-2 against Petr Mrazek.
Grubauer is now 4-1 in shootouts this season.
“It was a tough game, but we battled through it,” said Grubauer, who will represent Germany later this month at world juniors in Buffalo.
Toffoli and Prince led the way offensively once again for the 67’s, the dynamic duo’s consecutive points streaks reaching 12 games.
Toffoli has 14 goals and 11 assists over that span, while linemate Prince has eight goals and 15 assists.
Cody Lindsay, elevated to first-line duty in the absence of Ryan Martindale — who is expected to return from an ankle injury next weekend — played a good two-way game with extended shifts on the power play and penalty kill.
His 13th goal of the season opened the scoring at 6:57 of the first period, and drew him within two goals of hitting 100 in his OHL career.
“Things are starting to come around for me, I’ve been working hard in practice and the coaches have been really positive with me, so things have turned around,” said Lindsay. “Mostly I’m just focused on helping the team win.”
Prince’s first of the game, with one minute left in the second period, capped a wild middle frame that saw the teams trade goals and penalties, emerging deadlocked at 4-4 heading into the final 20 minutes.
Nathan Moon, with his 18th of the season, put Kingston ahead at 3:29 of the third, and Prince answered back at 6:02 to send the game into extra time.
The Kingston game kicked off a four-game homestand for Ottawa, with visits next weekend from the Brampton Battalion and Belleville Bulls next weekend, and a home-and-home series kicking off Dec. 17 against the Peterborough Petes.