Story by soogreyhounds.com | Photos by James Egan Photography
SAULT STE. MARIE, ON –
If Game 1 was any indication, fans in Sault Ste. Marie and Owen Sound are in-store for an extremely fast and skilled series, as expected.
The Greyhounds opened their Western Conference Semi-Final series against the Attack in winning fashion on Wednesday Night.
“Ya, right from the start and didn’t really give up until the end. Quite honestly I thought as the game went on it got faster” began Greyhounds Head Coach Drew Bannister when asked about the pace.
“We knew they were a good skating club, again we knew if we were going to have any success we had to play at a high pace and I thought early on we started at a high pace. As the game went on they started to skate real well” he added.
But so too did the Hounds.
The Greyhounds came out of the gates strong with possession and limited Owen Sound offensively.
As a matter of fact, the opposition was held to just a couple shots in the first eight minutes of the game and period that saw the Hounds hold a slim 9-8 shot advantage.
When JOSEPH RAAYMAKERS was tested, he was sharp and kept the Attack in check.
Eight-and-a-half minutes in, Nick Suzuki used some slick hands to get the puck in zone and feed Jonah Gadjovich who was turned aside by the Greyhounds netminder’s pads. It was just the 3rd shot on goal for the Attack.
Then in the final minute Santino Centorame took the room he was given and skated in off the right point before letting go of a shot and RAAYMAKERS squeezed to the right side.
The opening twenty minutes would go scoreless.
In the second, the Hounds would cash in early and opening the scoring.
Just 2:08 in, MORGAN FROST won an offensive zone draw back to Metamora, MI product JACK KOPACKA who skated deeper in the zone as if he was about to circle the net, and banked the puck between the legs of Michael McNiven for the 1-0 lead.
For Kopacka that was his 3rd post-season goal, and 1st since Game 2 of the opening round against Flint.
Again, RAAYMAKERS shut down any Owen Sound chances including a split save just five minutes in on Matt Schmalz who was sprung up alone on the right wing and cut to the net for a scoring opportunity.
“I thought Joe was excellent. There were some saves he had to make in the second period when we lost coverage and they got loose, in open ice, and Joseph had to make some real, real good saves. He made one real good one in the third on the pad at the end of an odd man rush we gave up” commented Bannister.
In the second half of the period the two teams were assessed a total of four penalties resulting in a pair of Greyhounds powerplays and one for Owen Sound, but none resulted in further offense as the Hounds carried the 1-0 lead into the third period.
When leading after forty-minutes this post-season the Hounds were 3-0 heading into tonight, while it marked the first time the Attack trailed heading into the final period of regulation.
Owen Sound would tie the game under two minutes into the third period on a Greyhound turnover inside their own zone.
In what was their 18th shot on goal, Sean Durzi let the point shot go and Ethan Szypula was in front to bury the rebound for his 3rd goal of the playoffs and a 1-1 game.
That lead lasted under five minutes before the Hounds converted the games only powerplay marker in what was the eventual game-winner.
At 6:03, GUSTAV BOURAMMAN wristed a right point shot past BARRETT HAYTON, who was standing in front, and past McNiven for the 2-1 lead.
Thirty seconds after the goal the Hounds killed off a minor penalty of their own and took the one goal cushion into the final minutes of regulation.
With just over three minutes to play the puck would roll off the stick of an Attack and JACK KOPACKA sprinted to the puck and put the breakaway home for his 2nd goal of the night and extending the lead to 3-1.
Owen Sound would get a powerplay with just a tick over two minutes left and after later pulling their goalie for the extra attacker had a 6-on-4 advantage in the dying minute.
There, CONOR TIMMINS got the puck in the corner deep in the Greyhounds own end of the ice and lifted a high shot that found the empty cage for his 1st playoff goal, and sealing the 4-1 victory.
The Greyhounds took a one-game-to-none advantage in the series.
“I just thought all of our guys, right from the start, were committed to playing away from the puck. We played with speed, we didn’t slow it down, and when we did slow it down we got ourselves in trouble” started Bannister when asked what he liked most in the victory.
“We knew we had to play with speed we needed to play with speed, moving our feet, moving the puck. They’re a team that moves the puck extremely well, and they transition well and they skate well. I think you saw tonight with the game and the pace it’s at that if you’re standing around you’re going to be lost in that game” he concluded.
ATTENDANCE – 3,401
RED STAR THREE STARS OF THE GAME
1- Jack Kopacka, SSM
2- Joseph Raaymakers, SSM
3- Gustav Bouramman, SSM
To view the online boxscore CLICK HERE.
Game 2 of this Western Conference Semi-Final Series (Greyhounds lead 1-0) is set for this coming Friday, April 7.
Game time is 7:07 PM at the Essar Centre.
Great seats are available and you can join the action by visiting the Essar Centre Box Office, online at www.essarcentre.ca or by phone at 1.866.775.9422.