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Hayton nets game-winner as Hounds squeak past Firebirds

Story by soogreyhounds.com  |  Photo courtesy of James Egan Photography  |  Post-game audio provided by Brad Coccimiglio (Sootoday.com)

When the buzzer sounded the Soo Greyhounds winning streak remained intact, and they gained two more points in the standings.  Fortunately.

“Everything was bad.  There was nothing good in the game.  Our powerplay wasn’t very good, our penalty good wasn’t very good, our 5-on-5 play wasn’t very good, our goalie let in a couple soft goals in the first period, we weren’t very tight in the d-zone, we couldn’t hit a net in the first period” started Head Coach Drew Bannister in his post-game media scrum.

“There was a lot of bad things in that hockey game.  It was just a bad hockey game all around” he continued.

Squaring off against a Flint Firebirds team they have easily handled so far this season, the Hounds found themselves down a pair of goals through the first twenty minutes.
C.J. Clarke scored the game’s opening game going glove side on TYLER JOHNSON at 2:55 as Flint took less than a minute to capitalize on their first powerplay of the game.
Then with just over a minute to play in the period, Jalen Smereck stepped up at his own line anticipating a cross ice pass by the Hounds that he skated up ice and shot over the shoulder of JOHNSON for a 2-0 through one period.

The visitor’s lead could have been extended early in the second period if not for an enormous save by JOHNSON in the opening seconds.
Jake Durham received a stretch pass that send him in alone on a shorthanded breakaway only to be denied by the Greyhounds netminder, keeping the deficit at two.

“I thought he was outstanding in the second period.  Can’t really fault him on any of the goals in the third.  The first two I think he’d like back, but I thought he was outstanding in the second” said Bannister of his netminder on the night.

Nine seconds after his own penalty had expired, COLE MACKAY would breathe life into the season high crowd inside the Essar Centre.
The Sault Ste. Marie prodcut came out of the box and was part of a rush where he got his own rebound and fired it high upstairs on Garrett Forrest to put the locals on the board.

Then with under two minutes to go in the period, RASMUS SANDIN’s wrist shot on the powerplay pulled the game even.
For the rearguard, it erased a twelve game scoreless streak while marking his 18th point of the year, in 23 games played.

Hounds took a 8-0-1-0 record into the third period when tied.

And it was the third period where the Greyhounds and Firebirds would surely give the fans their money’s worth in the see-saw battle, while leaving the coaches shaking their heads.

RYAN ROTH’s 9th goal of the year at 3:57 gave the Hounds their first lead of the game 3-2 only to be erased before the period was ten minutes old when Hunter Holmes converted on a 2-on-1 to notch the teams at three.

Just over a minute later (10:40) Connor Roberts and Flint thought they had re-took the lead only to have the goal called back after a review deemed the playoff offside.

The home side regained some momentum thirty seconds later (11:11) when SANDIN was in front to bury home his second goal of the night for a 4-3 Greyhounds lead.

Jack Wismer (15:07) for Flint, TIM GETTINGER (15:32) for the Hounds and then Ty Dellandrea (Flint), on a powerplay, all scored in a span of just over three minutes having the teams sitting at a 5-5 tie with just over a minute to play.

But as they have time and again this season, the Greyhounds would find resolve.
With just over fifteen seconds remaining in regulation time, BARRETT HAYTON took the first shot that came back to him and he swiped home five-hole for his 14th goal of the year and the game-winner in a 6-5 Greyhounds victory.

The win extended the winning streak to twenty-two games while improving the team’s record to 31-3-2-0, good for 64 points on the season.
It also improved the Hounds lead to twelve points over the idle Sarnia Sting at the top of the standings, with both teams having played 36 games this season.

“I don’t remember when we had a real practice, it’s been like three weeks.  This is what happens when you don’t have practice time” stated Bannister post-game.

“Even leading into the break we hadn’t practice a lot because we were playing.  We need a week of practice.  Coming up after tomorrow we will get three days of practice, that will help us alot, we need that” he concluded.

ATTENDANCE – 4,438

RED STAR THREE STARS OF THE GAME
1- Rasmus Sandin, SSM
2- Jalen Smereck, FLNT
3- Cole MacKay, SSM

To view the online box score CLICK HERE.

UP NEXT:
The Greyhounds round out their home portion of 2017 TOMORROW NIGHT (Sat. Dec 30) when they host the Guelph Storm.
Game time is 7:07 PM.

Tickets are available at the SK Group Box Office inside the Essar Centre beginning at 10 AM Saturday, online anytime at www.essarcentre.ca or by phone at 1.866.775.9422.

THIS GAME IS NOT TELEVISED.

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