Story by soogreyhounds.com | Photo by James Egan Photography
Not once, but twice, the Soo Greyhounds penalty kill was put to task in the third period on Wednesday Night.
Trailing the Sudbury Wolves 3-2, and later while tied, the club was perfect while shorthanded for four minutes a time, enabling them to find the game winner over the Sudbury Wolves and clinch the 2017-18 Bell Challenge Cup.
“Our penalty kill was outstanding. Our penalty kill has been getting better so it was good to see them gain some confidence off that. I think we’re starting to get a bit of swagger with our PK (penalty kill) which helps. Offensively on the PK we’ve been able to create but we had some issues keeping the puck out of our net. Now I think there is a little more commitment to play on the D side of the puck” said Greyhounds Head Coach of that aspect of his specialty team post-game.
Every game in the season series so far between the Hounds and Wolves has been decided by two goals or less, and this night wouldn’t be any different other than the fact the Greyhounds would never lead the game before scoring the late game winner.
Midway through the first period Sudbury would strike first when Dawson Baker (2) redirected the puck from the corner to MATTHEW VILLALTA’s right to put the visitors ahead 1-0.
Six minutes later MORGAN FROST’s rinkwide pass was skated by BORIS KATCHOUK to the Sudbury goal line to the right of Jake McGrath. There, the Greyhounds leading scorer showed extreme patience before tucking it past the netminder’s right pad for his 19th goal of the year, tying the game at 1-1 after the first period.
And despite holding Sudbury shotless through the first seven minutes of the second period, and to just three shots in the period, the visitors pulled ahead for the second time just shy of the halfway mark.
At 8:56 Owen Gihula’s shot went wide to the left of Villalta before quickly coming off the end boards to the opposite side of the net where Blake Murray (8) put the Wolves ahead 2-1.
RASMUS SANDIN would put the game back tied, now 2-2, at 14:06 when his left point wrist shot hit part of McGrath’s left arm but got past the Sudbury netminder to the delight of the nearly 3,700 fans including his father Patric who was seeing his son in action live while visiting Sault Ste. Marie.
Early in the third period (2:37) Sudbury took their third lead of the night.
The Hounds lost the puck at the side of their own goal before Anthony Tabak buried his 3rd goal of the year for the 3-2 advantage.
Sudbury enjoyed a four-minute powerplay quickly thereafter after the Hounds’ HAYDEN VERBEEK was nabbed for a high-sticking double minor that was erased by the locals.
That allowed BORIS KATCHOUK to pull the Greyhounds even.
RYAN ROTH kept the puck inside the Sudbury zone before moving it across to MORGAN FROST. From there the Aurora, ON product found KATCHOUK who was parked on the doorstep of McGrath and he would put it high overtop the Wolve for his second goal of the night and put the Hounds even at three.
With seven minutes to go in regulation, the Hounds were on the penalty kill for an extended four minutes for the second time of the period with another high sticking double minor.
Penalties that weren’t questioned by Bannister post-game.
“They’re highsticking. They’re undisciplined penalties, you have to control your stick. Beeker (Hayden Verbeek) is an important player for us, on the PK too. It doesn’t do me any good having him in the box, those were lazy penalties” he commented.
Seconds after getting back to even terms (12 seconds), Captain TIM GETTINGER rushed up the right wing side and put the puck off the right post and across the line for his 12th goal of the season and a 4-3 Greyhounds lead.
Sudbury would utilize their timeout late in the period and pull McGrath for the extra attacker, but the Greyhounds would hold on for their 9th straight victory.
The win improved the Hounds to 18-3-2-0, good for 38 points but with a Sarnia victory (4-1) over London, kept them a single point out of first in the OHL’s West Division.
The Greyhounds hold a game in hand over the Sting.
“I think so. Those games can tend to go the other way on you pretty quick. We were behind all the time and at anytime in the third when we took double minors our guys dug deep. Our penalty killers, our D, we were efficient, our guys shortened their shifts because we had to shorten the bench. Certainly in the third period and the penalty kill was impressive on our end and we found a way to win. I think our team is maturing and finding ways to win regardless of whats happening in the game, not looking past it and just getting the job done” concluded Bannister when asked if Wednesday’s win was a sign of a maturing hockey club in respect to the way they won the game.
ATTENDANCE – 3,686
RED STAR THREE STARS OF THE GAME
1- Boris Katchouk, SSM
2- Dawson Baker, SBY
3- Tim Gettinger, SSM
To view the OHL box score CLICK HERE.
It’ll be a battle of two of the OHL’s Top 3 teams on Friday Night (November 24) when the Kitchener Rangers make their second and final regular season visit to town.
Game time is 7:07 PM and proudly presented by Home Depot.
Great seats are available by visiting the SK Group Box Office inside the Essar Centre (Thursday 10 AM to 5 PM, Friday 10 AM through game time) or you can order conveniently online at www.essarcentre.ca or by phone at 1.866.775.9422.