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 outmatched by the Steelheads, outscored 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.
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Matthew Spencer (D) / Christopher Paquette (F)
(Jonne Tammela (F) - Did Not Play)
Peterborough Petes vs Mississauga Steelheads
April 20th: Home
L 5-3 - No Points / 0G, 0A, -2
The Petes opened the series with a loss to the Steelheads. 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 tied it with 8:41 left as Kyle Jenkins took a shot, Lorentz got one crack and Der-Arguchintsev put in the second rebound.
Petes fans were celebrating the goal announcement when Watson put Mississauga ahead again. He cut in from the hash marks and faked to get Wells to commit before stepping around him to slide in the winner. Michael McLeod capitalized on a turnover to add insurance at 13:42.
April 22nd: Home
L 3-0 - 0G, 0A, -3 / No Points
The Petes let another home get get away from them. The Steelheads have taken a 2-0 series lead and the Petes now face the task of winning three away games. From the Peterborough Examiner:
Dylan Wells did his part for the Petes with 49 saves but
Jacob Moverare and Peterborough native Owen Tippett, with his second goal of the series, scored in the second period and Spencer Watson added an empty-net goal..
“They were just better than us tonight,” said Wells. “They capitalized on opportunities and we didn't. It's unfortunate but we're facing a good goalie and a good team. Matthew (Mancina) played a great game with the shutout. We have to get back to the drawing board and really pay attention to detail on Monday night and we should be fine.”
Captain Brandon Prophet says the Petes face a test of their character.
“It's not the plan to ever be down 2-0 but the character we have in the room, the leadership, we know what we have to do,” said Prophet. “We expect to come out hard on Monday and win the game.”
April 24th: Away
L 2-1 2OT - 0G, 0A, -1 / No Points
The Petes are on the brink of elimination after losing in double overtime to the Steelheads. The Petes paid a ransom for Christopher Paquette, but he isn’t paying off this series. The Petes need to do the almost impossible now and win four straight to stay alive. From the Peterborough Examiner:
Petes' coach Jody Hull thought his team was much better than in Game 2.
"We played harder as a group," said Hull. "We challenged our players a little bit that we needed to be better as a team. I thought we were. Our battle level was there and it's just unfortunate someone had to lose.
"I can go back three years ago to being down 0-3 to Kingston," said Hull. "It's an old cliche but you take it one shift at a time, one period at a time, one game at a time. I know there is no quit in our hockey team."
April 26th: Away
L 7-0 - 0G, 0A, -3 / No Points
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.”
Matthew Spencer was signed to an ELC during the playoffs this year. This is his fourth OHL campaign and he will most likely move on to the pros next season. As a defenceman he has 98 points (19G, 79A) in 251 games, but has been put out against the top lines all season, earning the defensive trust of his coaches.
Paquette was a 2016 draft pick, and has one more season in the OHL left in him. He’s unsigned right now, but the Lightning have another year to figure out if he’ll play a role in their future. The Petes believed in him enough to pay one of the highest prices at the OHL trade deadline: goalie prospect Nate McDonald and five draft picks - 4 second round picks (2017, 2018, 2020, 2021) and a 2022 third round pick. Paquette only put up 19 points in 29 games for the Petes, and added only six in 12 playoff games.
Jonne Tammela was sent down to the Petes by the Lightning after being diagnosed with Patella Tendinitis during training camp. He tried to work it out, and suited up for two games with the Petes, scoring one point, but stopped after that. He had surgery in January in Syracuse, but wasn’t able to return to the Petes this year. He could go as an overager next season, but the Lightning will most likely make that decision in the fall.
Petes General Manager was disappointed he couldn’t play more for the team:
"He's a good player who would be a top forward in our league," Oke said. "It's unfortunate the way things have unfolded. Things happen unexpectedly and it's disappointing."
"Everyone is disappointed including Jonne. This is a good year of his development which he has now missed," Oke said. "Most importantly for him is to get back to 100 per cent health so he can resume his hockey career."
The Petes and Lightning have some decision making to do over the summer with their teams and where these players fit in to their future.