In Belleville, Nick Palmieri scored three goals, including an empty-netter in the final minute to lead the Bulls to a 5-2 win over the Niagara IceDogs in one of three games in the OHL playoffs on Thursday.
Belleville won the series in five games and will play in the Rogers Eastern Conference Championship Series for the third straight year. They will face the winner of the Brampton Battalion-Mississauga St. Michael’s Majors series.
Luke Pither scored the first two goals of the game before Palmieri added a goal in the second period and finished the hat trick with a pair of markers in the third. Bryan Cameron and Eric Tangradi each had two assists in the win.
Mike Murphy made 39 saves for Belleville, including a stunning glove save on a breakaway chance in the second period that maintained the Bulls narrow lead.
Mathew Sisca broke the shutout bid with a bit more than five minutes left in the game and scored again with 3:48 left in the game to bring the IceDogs to within two goals.
Jeremy Smith allowed four goals on 42 shots in the loss.
Brampton Battalion 4, Mississauga St. Michael’s Majors 2
In Brampton, Cody Hodgson scored a goal and added two assists to help the Battalion double the Mississauga St. Michael’s Majors 4-2. Brampton leads the series 3-2 with Game 6 on Friday in Mississauga.
Anthony Peluso opened the scoring on a powerplay in the first period and Hodgson, Sam Carrick and Evgeny Grachev all scored in the second. Alexander Eriksson and Matt Duchene each chipped in with a pair of assists.
Thomas McCollum turned aside 28 of 30 shots in the win.
Michael Pelech and Josh McFadden scored for the Majors in the third period to cut the lead in half.
JP Anderson gave up four goals on 30 shots in the first two periods before giving way to Chris Carrozzi, who stopped all 11 shots he faced in the third.
Windsor Spitfires 5, Plymouth Whalers 2
In Windsor, Scott Timmins scored the winning goal on a second period powerplay that helped the Spitfires to a 5-2 win over the Plymouth Whalers. The win gives Windsor a 3-2 lead in the series with Game 6 on Saturday in Plymouth.
Taylor Hall, Rob Kwiet, Greg Nemisz and Justin Shugg also scored while Hall and Ryan Ellis each had two assists in the win. Windsor outshot Plymouth 61-22 in the win.
RJ Mahalak opened the scoring in the second period and Matt Caria also scored for the Whalers.
Andrew Engelage made 20 saves in the win. Matt Hackett allowed five goals on 60 shots and Scott Wedgewood made one save in 36 seconds of relief work.
(Nathan also is a writer for Maineiacs Post to Post and the Maine Hockey Journal. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org)