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Kopacka scores twice, Villalta near perfect as Hounds start #TheHOMESTAND with win

Story by soogreyhounds.com  |  Photo by James Egan Photography

SAULT STE. MARIE, ON-
Building off a third period comeback this past Sunday afternoon (in North Bay), the Soo Greyhounds came out of the gates on Wednesday Night in fine fashion.
The team exhibited speed and control and while putting together one of their better starts in a while as noted by Greyhounds Head Coach Drew Bannister.

“I’m happy.  I was really happy with the with the start because our starts have been poor over the last little while here.  And I thought our start tonight was great.  The first period was good for us” commented Bannister.

And while the Hounds held the Saginaw Spirit to just four shots in a scoreless first period, a significant save happened around the 9:30 mark of the period.
After a turnover just outside the zone, Hayden Hodgson skated Saginaw in on a 2-on-0, but was turned aside by MATTHEW VILLALTA.
The rookie netminder was making his 17th save of the Ontario Hockey League season.

Scoring would open in the opening minute of the second period (0:53), when JACK KOPACKA matched his goal totals from one season ago.
With possession on the right wing, the Metamora MI product hesitated for a moment before getting towards the slot and firing over top Evan Cormier’s glove hand for a 1-0 Greyhound lead.
For Kopacka it marked his third consecutive game with a goal.

Just over a minute-and-a-half later Saginaw would have the first powerplay of the game and seemed to build off that opportunity that the Greyhounds were able to successfully kill off.
As the powerplay expired CJ Garcia broke in from the left point and put an attempt on Matthew Villalta that was turned asside.

And just like the Spirit, the Greyhounds would press right after a power play of their own expired when MORGAN FROST’s wraparound attempt was stopped by the left arm of Cormier and then BOBBY MACINTYRE driving for a rebound was stopped as well.

Seconds later (10:47) the Spirit would tie the game when a hit on the Hounds put Saginaw in puck possession where Maxim Grondin put a shot over the blocker of Villalta for a tied 1-1 game through forty minutes.

The Hounds entered the third period with 1:57 on the powerplay and while unable to capitalize on that opportunity the Hounds would later make the most of opportunities scoring twice on their first four shots of the period.

At the 6:19 mark BOBBY MACINTYRE moved the puck to MORGAN FROST who dished the puck from the right of the Spirit goal and across to ZACH SENYSHYN to put home his 31st goal of the season and put the Hounds back in the lead, now 2-1.

Less than two minutes later the Hounds powerplay would provide the insurance marker.
With seventeen seconds left on the man advantage, BARRETT HAYTON hesitated before setting up JACK KOPACKA as he snapped home his 2nd goal of the night, 21st of the season and gave the Hounds more than enough offense in a 3-1 victory.

“I thought that whole line was real good.  Boris and Jack, especially early on, they were buzzing.  Jack did a lot of good things today.  Obviously he was able to score the two goals that he had” said Bannister of the games Red Star First Star of the night.

MATTHEW VILLALTA turned aside all 15 shots he faced in the third period, as Saginaw outshot the Hounds 31-24 on the night.

“He’s been real good.  Again, he was real good tonight, he made the saves tonight when we need him, the important saves at critical times of the game I thought” said Bannister when questioned about his rookie netminder.

“When your goalie does that they bring energy to the bench and the guys were behind him. Early on we played well for him, he was able to settle in.  When they started to push he made some real good saves for us” he concluded.

GAME NOTES;
• Defenceman Mac Hollowell missed Wednesday’s game by what the team is describing as an upper body injury suffered at practice on Tuesday.  He is considered week-to-week or possibly day-to-day. Meanwhile Tim Gettinger served Game 2 of his OHL imposed 3 game suspension.

• The win marked the first time in over a month that the Hounds have triggered back-to-back victories.

ATTENDANCE – 3,689

RED STARS THREE STARS
1- Jack Kopacka, SSM
2- Matthew Villalta, SSM
3- Zach Senyshyn, SSM

To view the OHL Boxscore CLICK HERE.

UP NEXT;
The Greyhounds continue #TheHOMESTAND this coming Friday, February 10th against the Guelph Storm (7:07 PM).

It’ll be the second and final regular season meeting by the Storm to town.  A team that features a pair of Sooites in Nic Sicoly and Nolan Makkonen.

Great seats are available at the Essar Centre Box Office, online at www.essarcentre.ca or by phone at 1.866.775.9422.

FEBRUARY FAMILY PACK
Fans are reminded they can take advantage of the “February Family Pack” available this month.

For just $67 (taxes included) fans receive 4 tickets (2 adults, 2 child) along with 4 hot dogs and 4 pop.

Questions about tickets or season tickets can be directed to the Greyhounds Manager of Ticket Sales Matt Rodell by phone 705-574-0090 or e-mail matt@soogreyhounds.com

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