Thursday, May 25, 2017

Otters expecting a different Sea Dogs team in Friday's semifinal

WINDSOR, Ont. - The Erie Otters are expecting to see a much different Saint John Sea Dogs team on Friday.

The Sea Dogs suffered their worst loss of the 2016-17 season in Monday's round robin game against the Otters, falling 12-5. Erie head coach Kris Knoblauch isn't expecting to see a similar game in Friday's Memorial Cup semifinal.

"It's going to be a completely different team," Knoblauch said on Thursday of the Sea Dogs. "We're not going to be scoring 12 goals. I wouldn't be surprised that, if we're going to win this game, it's going to be a 2-1 game. I expect a completely different team."

Knoblauch spoke to the media a day after the Otters fell 4-2 to the Windsor Spitfires in the final game of the round robin. The loss placed Erie into Friday's semifinal while Windsor earned an automatic berth into Sunday's championship game.

While Erie dominated puck possession at times on Wednesday against Windsor, they were unable to dig themselves out of the hole they got into. The game was much different than Erie's first two of the tournament, which the Otters had a fairly easy time with.

"We're confident. We feel good," said Knoblauch. "We're disappointed in our effort from that last game but we knew when we came here we had to win four games to win the Memorial Cup and we're still in that position."

It's easy to think that the Otters might be overconfident heading into Friday's game after having little trouble with the Sea Dogs on Monday. Erie scored five goals on 17 shots in Monday's first period and added another four goals in the second.

"I think we've completely forgotten about the 12-5 victory," said Knoblauch.

The Sea Dogs rebounded from Monday's rough outing with a 7-0 victory over the WHL champion Seattle Thunderbirds on Tuesday. The Dogs took Wednesday off and held a regular practice Thursday morning at WFCU Centre.

Saint John is obviously hoping for a much performance against Erie this time around.

"The teams in this tournament are good," said Sea Dogs head coach Danny Flynn after practice on Thursday. "They have depth and play a smart game. It was very impressive how good (Erie's) skill level was. We got back to playing the way we need to play against Seattle and we're hoping that will carry over."

Flynn said the team will make some adjustments to their play on Friday in hopes of a better result.

"I don't think this late in the year, when you're coaching your 100th game or whatever, you can change a whole lot. We'll try and make some adjustments, but not big ones. I think we have to do the things that got us here but we have to be a lot better. We have to be sharper with our passing and better with our decisions and our reads. I thought we were a lot better against Seattle but we're going to need to be sharp against Erie."

Game time on Friday is 8 p.m. The game can be seen nationally on Sportsnet.

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