The Belleville Bulls look to wrap up the final series in round one of the Ontario Hockey League playoffs tonight; a win over Mississauga in this evening’s game would allow the Bulls to take the series, four games to two, and move on to the second round.
Belleville, the second-best team in the OHL in the regular season and top team in the Eastern Conference, took the first two games of the series before the Steelheads tied the series up. The Bulls won the most recent game, a 5-0 victory on Saturday, and will look for a victory tonight to push them into the next round.
Overall, the Bulls have outscored the Steelheads 20-9 and outshot them, 164-131, through the five games of the series to the point.
Belleville’s Brendan Gaunce and Tyler Graovac are tied for fifth in playoff points scoring in the OHL, with nine points each.
Both forwards have at least a point in each game so far and are on five-game point streaks in the playoffs; their point streaks date back to nine games if you look at the regular season as well as postseason games. Gaunce has 15 points in that stretch, while Graovac has 14.
The series began with an aggressive match-up on March 21 in Belleville. The teams combined for 72 penalty minutes, a feat which included fighting majors handed out to ten different players.
Despite the physical game, the Bulls came out on top by a score of 8-1 thanks to a four-point night from captain Gaunce, as well as a trio of assists from Graovac. Alan Quine and Scott Simmonds also had three-point nights, scoring a goal and adding two assists each in the win. Malcolm Subban allowed one goal on 26 shots faced.
For the Steelheads, Dylan DeMelo scored the lone goal, while Spencer Martin allowed eight goals on 36 shots.
Teams met again two days later in Belleville, with the Bulls once again allowing only one goal against en route to a 4-1 victory. Joseph Cramarossa, Carter Sandlak, Jake Cardwell and Graovac scored for Belleville, while Spenser Cobbold scored for Mississauga. Malcolm Subban had 29 saves, while Steelheads netminder Tyson Teichmann stopped 37 shots.
With Belleville taking a pair of wins on home ice, it was time for the tables to turn and Mississauga to do the same.
The Steelheads took a 2-1 victory at home on March 24 to cut the series lead, with Mississauga goals coming from Josh Burnside and Damian Bourne. Teichmann stopped 31 shots to edge the Bulls, who outshot the Steelheads, 32-25.
Belleville’s lone goal came from – yep, you guessed it – Tyler Graovac, assisted by Brendan Gaunce and Scott Simmonds. Malcolm Subban allowed two goals on 25 shots faced.
Two days later, Mississauga would once again take advantage of home ice, securing a win to tie the series at two games each.
Center Dylan Smoskowitz had a pair of goals, while Josh Burnside had a three-point night to lead the Steelheads to victory. Riley Brace and Andres Kopstals also scored for Mississauga, while Joseph Cramarossa and Jake Cardwell notched goals for the Bulls. Malcolm Subban had 16 saves in 58:21, while Tyson Teichmann stopped 25 shots.
Most recently, Belleville took game five at home by a decisive score of 5-0. Austen Brassard, Alan Quine, Brendan Gaunce and Stephen Silas (2) scored, while Malcolm Subban stopped all 29 shots faced for his first shutout in this year’s OHL playoffs. Tyson Teichmann allowed four goals on 18 shots faced before Spencer Martin was put into net. Martin then allowed one goal on ten shots in 29:52 of playing time.
If Mississauga wins tonight and ties the series, game seven will be Tuesday, April 2 at 7:05 p.m. in Belleville.