After back-to-back losses against the Sudbury Wolves to open the playoffs, the Mississauga Steelheads hoped to turn things around in game three on Sunday night. 

The Sudbury Wolves have made things tough for the Steelheads thus far in while the superb play of Ukko-Pekka Luukonen has given the Steelheads a big challenge to play against.

Starting in goal on Sunday night was Jacob Ingham and Ukko-Pekka Luukkonen who would both play in their third game in as many nights against one another.

Although both netminders were surely tired after the first two matches, you would never know it just by watching the game play out. It was fast, intense and entertaining for all sixty minutes of play in Mississauga.

As the first period got underway, The Sudbury Wolves would win the face-off, meanwhile, the Steelheads came out playing physical right away off the opening draw.

They had multiple big hits in the game’s first minute with Aiden Prueter leading the charge. Just 42 seconds into the game, Mississauga took an early penalty as Nicholas Canade was called for roughing.

With 44 seconds still left in the penalty, the Steelheads were called for another penalty as Richard Whittaker was called for roughing after pushing a Sudbury player into the Mississauga benches.

This would pave the way for the Wolves to capitalize on the opportunity, Shane Bulitka receiving a pass from Adam Ruzicka who would send the puck forward for David Levin who would take the puck on the Steelheads right side and open the scoring on a wide open net.

Mississauga’s first penalty had ended by the time that Levin scored, but they were still down a man with Richard Whittaker having been sent to the box for roughing. Levin’s opening goal was his third goal in as many games.

The Steelheads were gifted a chance on a misplay from Ukko-Pekka Luukkonen which saw Mississauga gain a chance to score while Luukkonen was getting back to the Sudbury net. The shot hit the post as it was shot on a difficult angle.

This would not be the Steelheads only chance as just minutes later, Darian Pilon received a roughing penalty, putting Mississauga on the power play. During this time, Thomas Harley controlled the play for his team down 1-0 and with a perfect pass sent down the zone, Cole Schwindt would find the puck and poke it by Ukko-Pekka Luukonen. Alan Lyszczarczyk would be credited with the primary assist on the play.

After the Steelheads tied the game at one apiece, they were not so quick to slow down, remaining fast and physical looking to do more damage against a stacked Sudbury Wolves formation. As they began to step up their physical play, so did the Wolves. They sent shockwaves through the arena when Darian Pilon made a massive hit on Richard Whittaker.

Terry Wilson/OHL Images

The Wolves physical play would not stop Mississauga as they were the next team to strike the scoreboard on a goal netted by Liam Ham who rifled the puck past Luukonen. This would put the Steelheads up 2-1 on the Wolves in the game’s first period. Thomas Harley and Nick McHugh would be credited with assists on the play.

The lead would not last long as C.J. Clarke would get sent to the penalty box for a face-off violation, putting Sudbury on the power play where the Wolves would make no mistake. Quinton Byfield scored on a beautiful one-timer shot which flew right past goaltender Jacob Ingham. Jack Thompson would be credited with the only assist on the game-tying goal.

With the game now tied at two, Mississauga looked to get back on top and had some strong and dangerous scoring chances but could not get one knocked past Luukkonen. Towards the end of the opening frame, the Steelheads would have a 5-3, however, would find no success on the advantage which would bring the first period to a close.

As the second period got underway, Mississauga would remain on the power play, therefore, starting the middle frame off strong and had multiple scoring chances at their display as well. This would include a skilled between-the-legs shot which was marvellously saved by Ukko-Pekka Luukonen.

Blake Murray would then get called for high sticking in the opening minutes of the second frame to give the Steelheads yet another chance to once again take back the lead on Sudbury. Mississauga was unable to convert on the power play, allowing the Wolves to capitalize after their failure to score. On a 2-on-1, Murray would approach the Steelheads net and pass the puck to Quinton Byfield who would net it past Jacob Ingham to give his team a 3-2 lead.

John Lappa/Sudbury Star

Nolan Hutcheson would record the secondary assist on the Wolves leading goal. Byfield’s goal was his second of the night and his sixth point of the playoffs. Mississauga forward Richard Whittaker would get called for a high sticking penalty and would be sent to the box to serve a 4:00 minute penalty.

The Steelheads penalty kill did a great job keeping the puck out of their zone while Alan Lyszczarczyk had a good short-handed opportunity early on but was ultimately stripped of the puck. Cole Schwindt and Aiden Prueter did a great job keeping the puck in the Sudbury zone as Mississauga was rewarded with a power play which would last for a four minute duration.

The Steelheads did a good job limiting the Wolves after they began to pick up the intensity and create several chances. However, with just six seconds left in the power play, Blake Murray scored Sudbury’s fourth goal assisted by Jack Thompson as well as David Levin.

Just four minutes later, Mississauga would go back on the power play and Nick McHugh would get his shot just past Ukko-Pekka Luukkonen to put the game back to one point within reach. McHugh’s goal was his second point of the game and was assisted by Ryan Barbosa and Jacob Ingham.

The Steelheads would spend the rest of the period trying desperately to tie the game up at four and almost did so when Barbosa made a great pass in front of the Wolves net that went right past Luukonen. However, Alan Lyszczarczyk was not able to get his stick free to tap it into the open net.

The second period would come to a close in the middle of a 4-on-4 game. Sudbury would go into the third period leading by a score of 4-3. The shot totals were 27 for Mississauga and 26 for Sudbury. 

As the third and final period commenced, it would start off with each team having four players on the ice. Cole Schwindt almost tied the game early with a rifle of a shot that got past Lukkonen but did not get passed the bar. The puck hit the bar and went out of reach and back into the Wolves zone down the ice.

The next dangerous scoring chance came courtesy of Quentin Byfield who nearly scored a hat trick goal but fanned on the one-timer chance. The Steelheads would then earn a power play in an effort to tie up the game, multiple dangerous chances taken on Lukkonen but unable to get anything past him and into the net.

One of the more notable shots came off the stick of Richard Whittaker, but he was robbed with a sprawling save from Luukkonen who stretched out with a mesmerizing save. This would keep the Wolves on top of Mississauga 4-3. The third period was not filled with many goals, but was arguably the most exciting period to watch.

There were strong plays and high danger scoring chances made by both sides alongside superb goaltending between the pipes of each net, meanwhile, Quentin Byfield alone had multiple strong chances but was robbed by Jacob Ingham.

The game was back and forth for majority of the final frame as the Steelheads desperately were trying to avoid falling 3-0 in the series while the Wolves were trying to stop Mississauga from tying the game.

In the dying minutes of the third period, things were getting extremely intense. With the Steelheads only down by one goal, they needed to do something to get their team on the board to tie it up. Mississauga did everything right, getting shots on net and creating high quality chances, but goaltending played a key factor as nothing was able to be shot past Luukkonen.

Schwindt almost tied the game late, but Luukkonen made yet another astonishing save to keep the Sudbury Wolves in the game. The Steelheads picked up the intensity one step further and then pulled Jacob Ingham for the remainder of the game.

The Steelheads were all over the place, not letting the Wolves take control. They were piling shots on net trying to squeeze one past Luukkonen, however, were unsuccessful in their efforts to do so. Luukkonen would remain stellar, making some miraculous saves to keep his team in the game.

He even stopped three great chances all in a row with tons of players crowding the net to keep the Wolves in the lead. With just 56 seconds left in the game, Mississauga would go on the power play after a delay of game penalty for Quentin Byfield. With the goalie pulled on the power play, the Steelheads would have six players on the ice against the Wolves who had four.

On the face-off attempt in the Sudbury zone, Macauley Carson would win the draw against Mississauga which was directly received by Cole Candella who would clear the puck off the boards. Unfortunately for the Steelheads, it would bounce off the boards and into the net, adding insult to injury for Mississauga who would go down 5-3 with 51 seconds left in the game.

With the power play still intact, Jacob Ingham would remain on the bench, but Mississauga was unable to convert as the dying seconds of the game counted down.

The final score of the game was 5-3 Sudbury. Mississauga finished the game with 42 shots on net while the Wolves recorded just one shot less with 41. The three Stars of the game would be Jacob Ingham, Thomas Harley as well as Quinton Byfield.

Wednesday night’s game at home will be a do or die game for the Mississauga Steelheads as they look to come back from a pair of rough losses to keep their playoff hopes and dreams alive. It will require a fairly big effort for the Steelheads to come back from a three game deficit, but as the famous storyline goes, nothing is deemed to be impossible.

Mississauga is back in action on Wednesday night at Paramount Fine Foods Centre as the Steelheads play host to the Sudbury Wolves at 7:00pmET. The game can be seen on OHL Live, meanwhile, it can be heard on Sauga 960 AM.

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