By Dan Pearce
The Otters slipped by the Bulls on Monday.
The Erie Otters chalked up their ninth win of the season after beating the Belleville Bulls 4-1 at the Yardmen Arena this Family Day.
The Bulls may have been a bit overconfident after a decisive 8-3 win over the Mississauga Majors on Saturday.
“It was likely a combination of having a nice win on Saturday and maybe a little bit of the edge taken off based on the amount of games we’ve played lately,” said Bulls assistant coach Jake Grimes.
The Otters came out hard and fast early in the game, beating Bulls netminder Malcolm Subban three times in the first period.
“Erie took advantage of every single thing they could’ve possibly taken advantage of, and they started that early,” said Grimes.
Sondre Olden stuffed a rebounded puck passed Subban for the Otters’ first goal at 8:09.
Forty-six seconds later, Connor Brown scored on a breakaway to make it 2-0.
A shot from Kris Grant at 1:16 beat Subban for the third time in the first period and improved the Otters’ lead to 3-0.
In the second, Olden found the back of the net at 16:36 for his second goal of the game and put the Otters up 4-0.
The Bulls began showing signs of life in the third, when Jake Worrad scored at 16:43 to put the Bulls on the scoreboard. However, Otters goaltender Ramis Sadikov was on fire, and despite the Bulls outshooting the Otters 42-33, Sadikov’s performance in net landed the Otters their ninth win this season.
Grimes said he could tell once the Otters got a bit of a lead, their goalie really upped his game.
“He just kept getting better, and better, and better, and all of sudden, we couldn’t get it by him,” said Grimes.
Sadikov was named the first star of the game.
Even though the Otters have no chance at making the playoffs — they are last in the Ontario Hockey League — Grimes said there was no question they outworked the Bulls.
“They showed that just because a team is not going to be in the playoffs, doesn’t mean they’re going to come in and play like a team that’s not going to be in the playoffs,” he said.
This puts the Bulls in ninth place in the Eastern conference, and a point behind the eighth-place Peterborough Petes. The Bulls are going to take the loss in stride and try to learn from it.
“There has to be something that we can take out of it, that we can learn,” he said. “Right away, the first thing is early urgency. We have to find ways to stop bad situations from compiling quickly and we’ve got to find ways to change momentum.”
The Bulls hit the road on Friday to face off against the Brampton Battalion, who are in third place in the Eastern conference. They return home to play the first-place Western conference team, the London Knights, at the Yardmen on Saturday.