Despite being the first team on the scoreboard in Erin last night, the Huntsville Jr. C Otters suffered an early third period collapse, allowing three goals in under two minutes en route to a 4-1 loss in game four of their first round playoff series against the Shamrocks.
Now down three games to one, the Otters have their backs against the wall with no room left for error as the series shifts back to Huntsville on Friday night at 8:00 pm. The Otters will need to be perfect over their next three games with elimination looming large as the seventh place Shamrocks have put themselves in a position to advance to the second round of the playoffs for the first time since 2011.
Cam Russell opened the scoring at 15:48 of the first period off a feed from Jay Dix, but that was all the offence the Otters were able to muster. After a scoreless second frame, the Shamrocks exploded out of the gate to start the third, with goals from Connor Mortimer, Mike Nicolucci and Jesse Gunn putting the home team up 3-1 just 1:55 in with Keegan Martinec adding an insurance marker with less than five minutes to go. Neither team was able to get much done on the powerplay, with the Otters going 0-for-7 and the Shamrocks 0-for-9 on the man advantage.
The Otters need to buckle down and rediscover the offensive touch that saw the team finish second in the GBMOJCHL in goals scored during the regular season behind only the Alliston Hornets. Huntsville has found the back of the net just seven times in their four playoff games so far, while allowing 15 goals against.
The home team has won three of four games so far this series, which bodes well for the Otters who could see two of three contests played at the Canada Summit Centre. If necessary, game six of the series will take place in Erin Saturday night, with game seven scheduled for Sunday afternoon at 2:30 pm in Huntsville.