The Mississauga Steelheads found themselves in familiar territory against the Kitchener Rangers on Sunday afternoon, entering another overtime period.
But there wasn’t any celebrating on this occasion as the Rangers beat the Steelheads 3-2.
Maple Leafs prospect Jeremy Bracco buried the winner at 1:56 into the overtime period.
The script was almost identical – the Steelheads (5-5-1-1) had a lead late in the third period, but they couldn’t shut the door on the Rangers (8-4-0-1) and coughed up the advantage. However, this time the offence simply couldn’t bail them out in overtime.
“We just got a couple penalties and (the Rangers) scored on them,” Steelheads’ captain Michael McLeod said after the game. “But I think we outplayed (the Rangers) and we definitely deserved to win that one.”
The Steelheads got the jump on the Rangers early, scoring first for only the fourth time this season. And it was forward Owen Tippett that once again led the offensive attack.
Before his 11th goal of the season could even be announced, the Peterborough, Ont., native was back in front of the Rangers’ net and tapped in a beautiful pass from Nathan Bastian 34 seconds later. The tally marked Tippett’s fifth multi-goal game in the past six contests.
“I haven’t ever seen anyone go on a scoring streak (like Tippett’s),” McLeod said. “The guy really knows how to score goals. He’s like Patrick Laine with his scoring touch.”
But the offence dried up after the first period. Although rookie Jacob Ingham stood tall in net for the Steelheads for most of the game, Rangers forward Adam Mascherin seemed to have his number, scoring two goals in the third period.
“I give (Mascherin) props for his goals and I wish I could’ve been a little tighter through my arms and hip, but I guess you just kind of have to wipe it off,” the 16-year-old Ingham said after his 23 save performance. “But they were really pushing (after the second goal) and if you don’t wipe it off they easily could’ve won it in regulation.”
Ingham felt like Mascherin’s second goal might’ve handcuffed him a little bit.
“(Mascherin) got it off quick and it was kind of like a hidden release so I had trouble picking it up,” Ingham said. “But he’s got a bullet shot, too, so that didn’t really help.”
The rookie goaltender has been thrown into the deep end after a concussion to starting goaltender Matthew Mancina knocked him out of the lineup on Oct. 15 against the Saginaw Spirit. With each contest, Ingham felt like there’s been improvement in his game and things to learn from.
“When (Mancina) got hurt (against the Saginaw) I had to jump in and we were down 1-0 so I thought I played a good game there and I got my first win in OT and down in Barrie (against the Colts) I thought we played a good game, even though we lost in a shootout and (the game-winner) went off my skate, but I think you have to look at that game and build off of it,” Ingham said. “And then today (against the Rangers) I thought I had a really good game and a good one for my confidence, but it’s too bad it didn’t finish our way, but it’s a game you have to learn from and build off of.”
The Steelheads now have some time off until they head on the road to face the Sarnia Sting (8-3-1-0) on Friday and the Oshawa Generals (6-5-0-0) on Sunday.
“With a break tomorrow it will be good to flush everything out, but I think we’re heading in the right direction,” McLeod said.
Ingham added that after a difficult overtime loss four days off probably couldn’t come at a better time.
“In our last four games we’ve got six out of eight points so that’s good, even though it would’ve been nice to get eight out of eight, but I guess you can’t get everything you ask for,” Ingham said. “But it’s nice to get a break now before a good road trip for the team and we’ll definitely be ready to get the two points (against Sarnia).”