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Erie’s two biggest offseason acquisitions were on full display Friday night as the Otters opened the doors to the new Erie Insurance Arena
The verdict? Connor McDavid and Oscar Dansk are pretty good.
McDavid, the No. 1 overall pick in the 2012 Ontario Hockey League draft, netted two goals and Oscar Dansk stopped 34 of 35 shots as the Otters defeated the Brampton Battalion 5-1.
“The guys really played well,” said Erie coach Robbie Ftorek, who is entering his sixth season in charge of the Otters. “Oscar made some big saves when we needed them. It was just a really good effort from all the guys.”
The night started with an emotional moment as the Otters honored the passing of Ftorek’s daughter, Anna, in a pregame ceremony. Sherry Bassin, the Otters’ managing partner and general manager, honored her with a moving speech as Ftorek and his family was on the ice. The moment ended as Bassin unveiled a banner in Anna’s honor in the east end of the arena.
The emotion of the moment fueled the Otters.
“We wanted to get this win for coach,” said McDavid, who registered his first two-goal game of his young career. “It was good that we could do that for him.”
It’s also pretty apparent that McDavid and Connor Brown, linemates on the top line, already have strong chemistry together.
After Johnny McGuire made it 1-0 in the first period, McDavid, 15, tipped a pass from Brown on a two-on-one break past Brampton goalie Jake Smith with just over six minutes gone in the second period to stake the home team to a 2-0 advantage.
“We have a lot of chemistry out there,” McDavid said. “And J.P. (Labardo) is perfect for the other side. They are both pretty good players with amazing skills. We’re just pretty good together.”
From there, it was all Dansk. Through two periods, he was perfect, stopping all 27 shots he faced. It was a nice turnaround for the young Swede, as he allowed eight goals in his last outing against Ottawa Sept. 29.
His only blemish during his home debut was Blake Clarke’s second goal of the season 7:30 into the third period. Prior to Clarke’s tally, Luke Cairns scored 10 seconds into the third, a shorthanded marker while Stephen Harper and McDavid rounded out the scoring for Erie, which improved to 2-3-1 on the season.
Dansk, who entered the game with a 5.46 goals-against average, finished the night with 34 saves.
“It was a huge atmosphere (in the arena),” Dansk said. “The guys played really well and the defense played really tight. We were solid throughout the whole game.”
McDavid, Brown, Harper and Labardo each turned in two-point performances for the Otters, who snapped a two-game losing streak.
The Otters won’t have much time to celebrate as Midwest Division rival London makes its first visit of the season to Erie Insurance Arena tonight. The game is slated for a 7:00 p.m. start.
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