MISSISSAUGA — The youthful Steelheads nearly blew it, but eventually found a way.
Riley Brace scored the shootout winner and Spencer Martin made 36 saves as the Steelheads defeated the Windsor Spitfires 3-2 at the Hershey Centre on Friday
Windsor’s Brady Vail tied the game with 50 seconds left in regulation and the net empty, jamming home the Spitfires (2-1-0-1) second power-play goal of the game.
Steelheads (2-1) captain Stuart Percy was positive about the way his team responded to the adversity of the situation.
“Obviously it is disappointing when you allow a goal in the last minute,” Percy said to reporters after the game.
“I think we responded really well, and it was really surprising because we’re such a young team. I’m really happy with that.”
As talented as he is, Martin has not won since Oct. 21, 2011 when he backstopped the (then) Mississauga St. Michael’s Majors to a 3-2 victory in Sudbury.
It was something he says was not on his mind.
“I definitely was not thinking about that going into the game,” said the 17 year old goaltender. “But now that you say it, sure.
“It’s good to win always, and that is the more important thing.”
Mississauga opened the scoring 10:43 into the first period when Andrew Goldberg found Josh Burnside in the slot, and his one-timer beat Jordan DeKort glove side.
It was Burnside’s first career Ontario Hockey League goal.
Jordan Maletta tied it up less than six minutes later when he banged home a rebound on the power play off of a wicked Nick Ebert point shot.
Brett Foy had been penalized for high sticking, setting up Maletta’s goal.
It looked as though the Steelheads would take the lead with six minutes to go in the second when Andres Kopstals found Justin Rasmussen alone in front with DeKort out of position.
DeKort, however, dove across his crease and Rasmussen shovelled the puck into him.
Mississauga did get the lead back on its first power play goal of the season (after 14 opportunities) at 15:03 of the middle period when a slap shot from Percy, a Maple Leafs first rounder, found its way past the screened Windsor netminder from the high slot.
It was his second goal in as many games, a notable stat considering he had five all of last year.
“I just think I have been shooting the puck more [so far this season],” he said. “That’s one thing I have wanted to do this year is get more pucks on net, and luckily I have got a couple goals.”
Percy almost doubled the lead six minutes into the third period when he crept into the slot alone, picked up a pass from behind the net and snapped a shot right into the spitfire airplane on DeKort’s chest.
The Spitfires dominated the extra period, out-shooting the Steelheads 6-0, but they could not find a winner.
Vail, a Montreal Canadiens prospect, had the best chance two minutes into overtime when the glove hand of the Mississauga goaltender robbed him after he had been left alone in front.
Notes: Canadian medalists from the London 2012 Olympic and Paralympics were honoured before the game, and women’s soccer team forward Melissa Tancredi dropped the ceremonial opening face off.