ERIE, Pa. - The Erie Otters scored four third-period goals, three in the final six minutes, to record a key 5-2 win against the Midwest Division-rival Guelph Storm in OHL action Saturday night.
With their third straight win, the Otters (26-23-2-0) strengthened their position in the Western Conference playoff race and moved within five points of the fourth-place Storm in the battle for home-ice advantage.
The teams were tied at 2-2 in the third period until Andrew Yogan scored from the point with 5:55 left. Rookie Mike Cazzola followed with a floating shot from the blue-line that handed the Otters a 4-2 lead. Zack Torquato scored into an empty with 1:04 left to cap the win.
Otters winger Luke Gazdic finally snapped the scoreless tie 4:58 into the second period. He slipped a rebound of defenceman Tyler Hostetter's point shot past goaltender Francis Dupuis. Gazdic's third goal in the past four games and 12th goal overall extended his point streak to five games, tying a career high.
An unfortunate bounce allowed the Storm (27-18-2-3) to tie the score 1-1 less than five minutes later. Peter Holland's cross-ice pass during a power play bounced off Otters defenceman David Shields' skate and past goaltender Jaroslav Janus for Holland's 22nd goal of the season.
But Torquato's steal in the Storm's zone led to Ryan O'Reilly's tiebreaking goal 47 seconds into the third and a few seconds after the Otters completed a penalty kill. That lead disappeared, too.
Storm winger Ryan Baldwin fired a wrist shot inside the left post to tie the score 2-2 at the 5:17 mark.
But on a night when offence was tough to generate, the Otters produced plenty down the stretch.
Torquato (one goal, one assist), Justin Hodgman (two assists) and Tyler Hostetter (two assists) led the Otters with two points apiece. Janus made 23 saves in earning his third straight win.