The Mississauga Steelheads have been warming up all season. they started cool, but picked up after players returned from injuries, and others were brought in via trade. When they hit the post season they were on fire, and ripped through the Ottawa 67’s and Oshawa Generals, and have now swept the Peterborough Petes in the OHL Eastern Conference Final, they’ll face the winner of the OHL Western Conference Final: the Erie Otters or the Owen Sound Attack.
The Petes were a strong eastern team for the season, hovering around the top of the conference all year. They were a perfect 8-0 after sweeping the Niagara IceDogs and Kingston Frontenacs in the first two rounds, but were out matched by the Steelheads, out scored 17-4, and shutout twice. The closest the Petes came in this series was a 2-1 double overtime loss in game three, but it wasn’t meant to be this year. This is the farthest the Petes have gone in the playoffs in 11 seasons, and with talks of a new arena on the way, they’ll have to keep up the pace to bring in the bigger crowds to help rationalize the expense.
April 20th: Home
L 5-3 - 1G, 1A, +1
From the Peterborough Examiner:
"Mississauga brought exactly what we thought," said Petes coach Jody Hull. "They come with lots of speed and generate a lot off the rush. We had our moments, too, offensively and opportunities."
The Petes finished the first on their heels but got back on even terms 2:03 into the second. Korostelev one-timed a shot off the post but got the puck back got past a check and slid a pass Lorentz buried for his ninth goal in nine playoff games.
The Petes took their first lead of the series on a five-on-three power play when Korostelev took Lorentz's cross-ice pass and moved in to rip a shot over Mancina's glove at 12:05.
April 22nd: Home
L 3-0 - 0G, 0A, -3
Petes' coach Jody Hull said his group has to get back to the teamwork which brought them success.
“My message to the guys is we have to get back to making sure everyone is on the same page and we're all doing the same thing,” said Hull. “If you don't have 20 guys doing that the one guy who is not can make a big difference. We'll look at the video, talk a little more about it (Sunday) and be ready to go Monday.”
Hull thinks his team can match them on the boards.
“You have to work and keep advancing pucks and do what's made us successful this year,” he said. “Tonight we got away from that a little because we were behind. When you're behind you try things you're not accustomed to and guys get on their own page. I think that happened.”
April 24th: Away
L 2-1 2OT - 1G, 0A
The Petes are on the brink of elimination after losing game three in double overtime. Korostelev had the lone goal for the Petes, but they weren’t able to get one in after that. From the Peterborough Examiner:
Michael McLeod's goal 10:29 into double-overtime gave the Mississauga Steelheads a 2-1 win before 2,507 fans at the Hershey Centre Monday night pushing the Petes to the brink of elimination.
Dylan Wells, who was the Petes best player with 53 saves, tried to clear a puck that was kept in by the Steelhead and Ryan McLeod set up his brother Michael for the winner.
Nikita Korostelev scored for the Petes 2:03 into the game and Spencer Watson for Mississauga 28 seconds into the second before the teams settled into scoreless hockey for 70 minutes.
April 26th: Away
L 7-0 - 0G, 0A, -3
The Petes were done as soon as the game began, and when Owen Tippett scored at 8:29 of the first period, they may as well have brought out the Bobby Orr Trophy and awarded it then. The Petes were a good team, but were not prepared for the Steelheads to rise the way they did this post-season. From the Peterborough Examiner:
The Peterborough Petes' best season in 11 years came to a surprising and disappointing end Wednesday night.
After sweeping their first two playoff series few would have predicted the Petes would befall the same fate against the Mississauga Steelheads. The fact the deciding game was 7-0, before 2,744 at the Hershey Centre, added insult to injury.
Hull said his biggest disappointment is he doesn't think his team played close to its capabilities against Mississauga. "We didn't play one game in this series where we executed and did things we did in the first two series," Hull said. "Taking nothing away from how Mississauga plays, we didn't execute as a group.”
Nikita Korostelev is now facing the end of his time in the Maple Leafs system. He’s an unsigned 2015 draft pick, and if he doesn’t receive a contract by June 16th, he’ll go back to the NHL draft. The NHL has been his goal, moving from Moscow to play in GTA minor-midget leagues ahead of the OHL draft (this keeps him from being recognized as an ‘import player’), he never cracked the top level GTHL but was taken by the Sarnia Sting. In four season in the OHL, mostly with the Sarnia Sting, Korostelev scored 93 goals, 104 assists, for 197 points in 223 games. Those aren’t the best numbers, and post-draft you want to see your players over a point per game, which Korostelev only reached this year.
When I spoke with Nikita during a Petes game in Niagara this year, he was excited to talk about being part of the Maple Leafs organization, and what it meant to him. The Maple Leafs need to make a decision now. If he’s brought to the Marlies on an ATO, we’ll have a better idea of their intentions. If he isn’t, just like Stephen Desrocher was left out, he’ll most likely leave the organization before ever officially becoming a part of it.