The Erie Otters took a 3-1 series in the Ontario Hockey League Western Conference Final, with a 7-5 win over Darnell Nurse and the Sault Ste. Marie Greyhounds.
The first period scoring began with Jean Dupuy’s goal just 38 seconds into the game to give Sault Ste. Marie a short-lived 1-0 lead. Dupuy was assisted by Oilers prospect Darnell Nurse and Justin Bailey.
Nicholas Baptiste answered for Erie at 2:35 of the opening frame, assisted by the top-ranked 2015 draft prospect, Connor McDavid, and Remi Ellie.
Although McDavid couldn’t find twine, he finished the game with four assists.
“(McDavid is) a heck of a player, he’s a dynamic player, he competes, he wins battles, he’s great to watch. I’m glad I’m able to watch him tonight,” said Oilers President of Hockey Operations and General Manager Peter Chiarelli, who was at the game and was interviewed on the broadcast.
The Otters and Greyhounds exchanged goals to make it 2-2 heading into the second.
Nick Ritchie passed the puck out in front to Gabe Guertier for the Sault Ste. Marie lead at 8:09 of the second period.
Baptiste, a 2013 third-round pick of the Buffalo Sabres, scored his second of the night at 11:24 of the second, on the power play, to even things up at three.
After a Jared McCann third-period goal for the Greyhounds, Erie tied things up once again when NHL Central Scouting’s fourth-ranked North American skater, Dylan Strome, scored on the power play, assisted by McDavid and Travis Dermott.
Nurse came to the defence of a teammate who was hit after the whistle and went to the box for roughing, which gave Erie that power play. McDavid tossed it in front and Strome scooped and scored at 3:32 of the third.
Strome finished the game -1 with a goal and an assist. Nurse finished +1 with two penalty minutes and a helper.
Baptiste earned the hat trick at 13:23 of the third, giving Erie a 6-4 lead.
Sault Ste. Marie did get within one again, but Baptiste’s fourth goal of the night sealed the Erie win at 19:22 of the final frame.
Game five is on Thursday, in Sault Ste. Marie.