Special to Bullet News
The Niagara IceDogs pulled off a thrilling 5-4 overtime victory over the first-place Belleville Bulls in Belleville on Saturday night.
The first period saw strong goaltending in a battle of the backup goaltenders, with both Brent Moran and Belleville starter Charlie Graham keeping things scoreless for much of the period, despite some great chances for both sides.
The teams did not make it through the period scoreless however, as Brett Ritchie opened the scoring with 2:08 remaining in the frame to send the IceDogs into the intermission up 1-0. Shots were 15-13 Niagara after one.
Niagara’s lead did not last long as Belleville knotted things up only 2:22 into the second. The goaltenders continued their strong play throughout the remainder of the period to keep things tied at 1-1 after 40 minutes. Shots after two continued to favour the IceDogs 26-23.
took their first lead of the game. Belleville struck again just before the midway point of the period, putting the IceDogs in a tough spot, down 3-1 against a stingy Belleville squad which had won 11 in a row on home ice.
Ritchie got the IceDogs right back in the game, finishing off a 2-on-1 from Ryan Strome shorthanded with 3:40 remaining to make it 3-2. The comeback was completed less than a minute later as Carter Verhaeghe tied things up at 3-3. Steven Shipley made it 4-3 for Niagara with only 51 seconds remaining.
The drama continued however as Belleville sent the game into OT with five seconds remaining.
Verhaeghe wired home the winner with only four seconds left in overtime. Final shots were 38-37 IceDogs.
The IceDogs play host to the Windsor Spitfires Sunday afternoon at 2 p.m.
1. NIAG B. Ritchie, (35) (L. Mercer, S. Shipley), 17:52
2. BELV A. Berisha, (10) , 2:22
3. BELV C. Sandlak, (8) (T. Graovac, S. Simmonds), 1:34
3. BELV A. Brassard, (14) (C. Sandlak, C. Graham), 9:45
3. NIAG B. Ritchie, (36) (R. Strome, R. Shipley), 16:20 (SH)
3. NIAG C. Verhaeghe, (13) (J. Graham, T. Mort), 17:04
3. NIAG S. Shipley, (30) (R. Strome, B. Ritchie), 19:09
3. BELV A. Quine, (20) (A. Brassard, C. Sandlak), 19:55
OT. NIAG C. Verhaeghe, (14) (A. DiFruscia), 4:56