The Kingston Frontenacs continued to force offence in their first home exhibition game of the 2021/22 season. The Fronts came away with a 5-1 win over the visiting Ottawa 67’s at Leon’s Centre on Saturday night.
Rookie goaltender, Mason Vaccari played a strong game in net, making 22 saves on 23 shots to help Kingston earn a second consecutive win.
The game marked the first time the Frontenacs played an OHL game in the Limestone City since March 20, 2020 after the 2019/20 season was suspended.
Coming off a 9-2 victory in Peterborough versus the Petes on Thursday, September 16, the Frontenacs have now scored 14 goals in two games to open their 2021/22 pre-season schedule.
The Frontenacs and 67’s got off to a tentative start in the first period, trading some back and forth rushes. The 67’s fired their first shot on Vaccari just over a minute into the game, however Kingston began to take control of the play shortly after. Registering three shots in just over a minute.
Ottawa starter Collin MacKenzie made a couple nice saves, including a tough right-pad save that he kicked out off of a hard slapshot by Frontenacs defenceman Thomas Budnick.
It would be a short, but engaged night for Kingston rookie Jackson Stewart as he and 67’s defenceman Thomas Sirman dropped the gloves. The two would engage in a spirited tilt after Stewart had made a hard check in the Ottawa zone. Both players would receive game misconducts in addition to fighting majors as OHL pre-season rules dictate. Like former Frontenacs great and Father Dave before him, Jackson is proving to be a physical player with a strong desire to have an impact on the game.
Kingston was the more physical team during the first period. The team made multiple solid hits, including Nathan Poole and Chase Costantino both finishing on hard checks.
The Frontenacs opened the scoring at 7:41 when Paul Ludwinski netted his fourth goal of the pre-season. After overage defenseman Lucas Peric let a shot go from the point, Ludwinski got the 1-0 goal off a deflection in front of the 67’s net as the puck went over the shoulder of Mackenzie.
Both teams finish with 7 shots after the first period, as both teams had blocking shots high in their game plans.
Early in the second period, Vaccari would make two saves in quick succession on 67’s forward Brady Stonehouse. Mason began looking more and more comfortable between the pipes. The saves proved to be of even more importance as Kingston would go up by a pair shortly after.
Kingston made it 2-0 just over three minutes into the second on a Christopher Thibodeau goal. After Jake Murray fired the puck from the point, Costantino was able to tap a loose puck to a spot where Thibodeau made no mistake, burying his third goal of the pre-season past a sprawling Mackenzie.
Kingston would take charge from that point on. After controlling the play in the Ottawa zone on their first powerplay, Lucas Edmonds made it a 3-0 game at 5:56 with Ottawa forward Will Gerrior in the box for tripping. The goal was the culmination of a beautiful three-way passing play with Wright and Peric drawing the assists.
Budnick would be sent to the box at 7:36, but the Frontenacs continued doing a great job of boxing out the crease and blocking shots on the penalty kill. Vaccari was tested again on a tough shot by Chris Barlas, but he turned it away to maintain the three goal lead.
Kingston would go up 4-0 at 13:06 on a smart play by Mitchell Brooks. After winning the o-zone draw, Brooks would immediately drive the net and collect a loose puck before quickly deking around a fallen Mackenzie in the Ottawa crease. His first of the pre-season was assisted by Gage Heyes and Paul Hughes.
Brooks would get called on a crosscheck to give Ottawa its third extra-man advantage a couple minutes later, but again, Vaccari and the Kingston penalty kill held the visitors off the scoreboard. Kingston would play down a man one more time before the end of the second period with Budnick getting called for cross-checking at 17:42. The penalty killers did their job and Kingston finished the period with a 4-0 lead.
The third started with another penalty kill as Budnick was back to the box 54 seconds in. Ottawa was not able to register a shot as Kingston didn’t allow Ottawa to gain significant possession time and setup their power play.
Peric would get injured behind the Kingston net and left for the dressing room after being down on the ice. Fortunately, the former 67’s rearguard returned to the Kingston bench after being checked out by the training staff.
Midway through the frame the teams played four-on-four hockey as Costantino and Ottawa’s Dylan Robinson went off for roughing. Ottawa would get a 72 second four-on-three man advantage when Thibodeau was called for roughing at 9:52.
On their sixth man-advantage of the game, Ottawa was finally able to get on the board. Vsevolod Gaidamak finally putting one past Vaccari making the score 4-1. After an o-zone faceoff win, Luca Pinelli made a quick pass through the crease to a waiting Gaidmark leaving Vaccari no chance. Matthew Mayich also registered an assist on the only visitor goal.
The game’s final score would come at 14:55 when Edmonds potted his second of the game and third of the pre-season. Wright and Ludwinski drew helpers on the goal.
Vaccari would be named the games’ first star. Kingston’s 2021 4th round selection made an impression on his teammates and coaches. Edmonds was proud of the rookie goalie and his composure. “We kind of hung him out to dry a few times, but he did a good job of saving our behinds today. It is really impressive as a young kid to do that in his first game. I thought he handled it really well.”
Kingston plays their next game at home on Saturday, September 25th at the Leon’s Centre versus the Peterborough Petes at 7:00 pm. Follow Kingston Frontenacs social media channels for ticket information leading up to the game.
The regular season begins on Friday, October 8, 2021 when the Kingston Frontenacs host the Ottawa 67’s at the Leon’s Centre at 7:00 pm.