Photo courtesy of James Egan Photography
SAULT STE. MARIE, ON-
Twenty-four hours after suffering their first home-ice regulation loss in 13 games, the Soo Greyhounds were bound to do whatever it took defensively to get back on the winning side of OHL action.
In a steady-paced encounter with the Peterborough Petes, the team blocked shots, battled and saw goaltender JUSTIN NICHOLS shine in a 4-0 shutout victory.
“I like a lot of things about our game when we didn’t have the puck. I believe we battled harder even though we spent more time than I would have liked in our own end. I thought we kept things to the outside primarily, blocked shots when we needed to and we got through the penalty kill and didn’t give much on those” began Head Coach Sheldon Keefe.
With the two teams combining for 17 shots on goal both Nichols, and his counterpart Andrew D’Agostini were equally sharp.
In a span of four minutes NICHOLS closed the door on Cody Thompson on a play that the Petes outnumbered the Hounds in-close and he later closed the bottom of the net on Brett Findlay coming to the corner meanwhile D’Agostini shut the door on a MICHAEL SCHUMACHER shortly thereafter in a scoreless period.
At the buzzer, Hound DAVID BROLL and Derek Mathers dropped the mitts that saw the Broll given 2 for instigating and a fighting major, while Mathers was assessed two for instigating, five for fighting and a ten minute misconduct which left him out of commission basically the entire second period for the visitors.
Early in the second, while shorthanded, JARED MCCANN took advantage of a defensive turnover by the Petes before firing his 17th goal of the year gloveside for a 1-0 lead.
Just over two minutes later, SERGEY TOLCHINSKY stickhandled his way through a lot of open ice between the circles before the puck rolled away and slipped past D’Agostini for his 24th goal of the year.
Both early period goals were unassisted and saw the Hounds capitalize on two of their first three shots of the period.
Nichols would flash the glove with 6:53 to go to preserve the lead.
Then at 16:48, COLIN MILLER sent a shot from inside the circles to D’Agostini’s left to build up a 3-0 lead. BRANDON ALDERSON and DAVID BROLL picked up the assists.
In the final minutes of the period, and while caught in their own end, the Hounds who seemed fatigued dropped in front of shots before sending the puck to neutral ice in hard-working fashion. It gained noticed of the Hounds head coach.
“We had a chance to get the puck out a few times and didn’t which we’re not happy about but the message has been this week it’s not about the mistake, it’s about the recovery. If we’re going to make a mistake, we better be all fully committed to doing what we can to make up for it and that’s what we did” he explained.
The only goal of the third period came with just over five minutes to play. Skating up the right wing, TRENT MALLETTE centred the puck that would go off a Pete defensive and in for his 5th goal of the year and a 4-0 lead.
NICHOLS stopped all eight shots in the period, and 29 overall on the night to pickup his 1st career OHL shutout and 10th victory of the season.
“I was really impressed with his (Justin’s) game. He was calm and confident. I thought we did a good job in front of him but I don’t think they were going to get anything from him. It really started in the morning (at pre-game skate), it was an optional skate but he (Justin) made it obvious he was on a mission today” concluded Keefe.
With the victory the Hounds improved to 34-22-3-3, good for 74 points and moved back within 3 points of the 5th place Guelph Storm.
The team now heads out on the road for their final regular season roadtrip beginning this coming Thursday, March 7th (7:05 p.m.) at the Windsor Spitfires. The Bay Mills Resort & Casino’s pre-game show starts at 6:35 p.m. on Rock 101.
SHOTS ON GOAL
Peterborough – 8-13-8=29
Sault Ste. Marie – 9-9-9=28
RED STAR THREE STARS OF THE GAME
1 – Justin Nichols, SSM
2 – Colin MIller, SSM
3 – Sergey Tolchinsky, SSM
ATTENDANCE – 3,954