Story by soogreyhounds.com | Photo by James Egan Photography
SAULT STE. MARIE, ON-
With the regular season winding down the Soo Greyhounds used a victory on Sunday afternoon to increase their lead at the top of the West Division standings.
Never trailing in their game against North Bay, the Hounds picked up their third straight victory, 41st overall on the year, and now hold a five point lead for the division lead.
For North Bay it was their third game in less than three days.
“We took advantage of a tired hockey club, they played 3 games in 3 nights. We were able to tire them out 5-on-5 by putting a lot of pressure on the puck and not letting them exit the zone. We made it tough on them” began Hounds Head Coach Drew Bannister.
“I thought our guys were urgent from the start and even when we got up we were urgent which is a good sign for us” he added.
Less than five minutes into the first period, the Hounds would strike on their first powerplay of contest.
BORIS KATCHOUK brought the puck over the Battalion line and moved it to his right before going to the net and getting a piece of ZACH SENYSHYN’s shot for Katchouk’s 28th goal of the year and a 1-0 Greyhounds lead.
The powerplay marker was the Hounds third in as many games for the club.
The lead increased at 11:07 right off a draw. After BLAKE SPEERS won possession the puck worked from MAC HOLLOWELL to CONOR TIMMINS who fired a shot that was redirected by JACK KOPACKA for his 25th of the season for a 2-0 lead.
North Bay would answer back just over a minute later when an odd man rush was the result of a neutral zone turnover and Brett Hargrave put the Battalion on the board as the Hounds led 2-1 through twenty minutes.
A string of three straight goals in the second period began for the Hounds early on in the period.
ALEX GRITZ made it a 3-1 game at 3:34 burying home a rebound from Julian Sime for his 2nd goal of the year, assisted by TIMMINS and BARRETT HAYTON.
For the Cranberry Township PA product it was his 2nd goal of the year, and first since October 19th.
Before the period was ten minutes old BORIS KATCHOUK would finish off a three way passing play with KOPACKA and BLAKE SPEERS by tucking the puck past the North Bay netminders left pad making it a 4-1 game.
It marked Katchouk’s 7th multi-goal game of the season.
The trio of Katchouk/Kopacka/Speers would cap off the afternoon with 5 points conbined.
“I thought they were good. In the second period they created a lot of offensive chances, created havoc for their D, they just did a good job putting pressure on the puck. They used their speed to their advantage” commented Bannister.
Then three seconds after a powerplay had expired, ZACH SENYSHYN moved the puck from the backhand to the forehand and snuck the puck home for his 37th goal of the season increasing the Hounds lead to 5-1.
Kyle Potts countered for North Bay twenty-one seconds later (5-2) in a period that saw the Hounds hold 7-0 and 12-1 shot advantages before eventually outshooting the visitors 19-9 in the period.
The two teams skated through a scoreless third period while the Hounds fired eighteen more shots on goal, and totalled 50 on the night in a 5-2 victory.
The win, combined with Windsor’s home ice loss to Sarnia, moved the Hounds to their five point cushion at the top of the West Division while improving their record to 41-15-2-1, good for 85 points.
The Hounds end the lengthy home stand with six wins in eight games on Essar Centre ice.
“I think most of all, we’re playing better hockey than we were 4 or 5 weeks ago. The consistency is better. The games that we’re playing really well we’ve been real good. The games we’ve been a little off we’ve still had an opportunity to win hockey games” said Bannister.
“We’re trending in the right direction and it will be nice to get back on the road and start winning games on the road again” he concluded.
ATTENDANCE – 4,047
RED STARS THREE STARS
1- Boris Katchouk, SSM
2- Zach Senyshyn, SSM
3- Conor Timmins, SSM
• Goaltender JOSEPH RAAYMAKERS did not dress on Sunday as the veteran suffered what the team is describing as a lower body injury at practice on Saturday. The Chatham, ON product is listed as day-to-day and the team is hopeful he will skate on Tuesday.
To view the OHL Boxscore CLICK HERE.
The Hounds head out on the road for their final extended road trip of the regular season.
This Thursday Night, March 2nd it will be the battle of the top 2 teams in the West Division against the Windsor Spitfires.
Game time is 7 PM from the WFCU Centre.
The Greyhounds hold a five-point advantage over Windsor for 1st in the division.
Fans can hear all the action live with Gerry Liscumb Jr. on Rock 101 (101.3 FM) starting with the Pre-Game Show at 6:30 PM. You can also listen live HERE.
The game will be shown on Sportsnet starting at 7 PM.