The Erie Otters looked like a well-oiled machine during their cruise through the Ontario Hockey League Western Conference playoffs. But the high-performing engine may be in need of a slight tune-up after slipping into a 2-0 hole to start the Rogers OHL Championship Series with the Oshawa Generals.
Sabres prospect Nicholas Baptiste (2013, third round) saw his eight-game point streak come to an end Friday as Erie opened the final round with a 4-1 loss at Oshawa. Baptiste entered play with the hot hand, stepping up with goals in four straight games as the Otters upended Sault Ste. Marie to advance to the championship.
Michael McCarron (MTL) and Mitchell Vande Sompel (2015) gave the Generals a 2-0 lead before Remi Elie (DAL) scored in the final minute of the second period for Erie to cut the deficit in half. Oshawa kept their foot on the gas the rest of the way with goals from Michael Dal Colle (NYI) and Hunter Smith (CGY) to take the 1-0 series lead.
Baptiste was blanked again on Saturday as the Otters were handed another defeat in Oshawa, this time by a 5-1 count. Top draft prospect Connor McDavid saw his 16-game point streak halted in the Erie loss.
Matthew Mistele (LAK) got the Generals on the board with a power play marker at 5:21 of the opening period. Erie winger Nick Betz (2015) posted a reply at 14:58 to make it a 1-1 contest at the first intermission.
The table was set for a tight finish after the teams played a scoreless middle frame, but it was Oshawa who took full control in the final period, getting goals from Anthony Cirelli, Tobias Lindberg (OTT), Cole Cassels (VAN) and Mistele to close out the victory.
Baptiste has collected 11 goals and 20 points through 17 playoff appearances. His line with Dylan Strome (2015) and Betz will need to restore the rhythm that saw them combine for 22 points in the previous round if the Otters are to claw their way back to capture the coveted league title and subsequent Memorial Cup berth.
The Otters, who for the first time this postseason have suffered back-to-back losses, will look to halve the Generals’ 2-0 advantage Monday when the series shifts south to Erie for Game 3.
* Game 3: Mon., May 11 - Oshawa at Erie (7:35 p.m.)
* Game 4: Wed., May 13 - Oshawa at Erie (7:35 p.m.)
* Game 5: Fri., May 15 - Erie at Oshawa (7:05 p.m.)*
* Game 6: Sun., May 17 - Oshawa at Erie (7:35 p.m.)*
* Game 7: Tues., May 19 - Erie at Oshawa (7:05 p.m.)*
For more on all the youngsters in the Sabres pipeline, check out Kris Baker’s web site - sabresprospects.com. You can also follow him on Twitter @sabresprospects for in-game updates throughout the week on any Buffalo prospects that are in action.