SAULT STE. MARIE, ON –
The ten day layoff for the holidays ended on Boxing Day for the Soo Greyhounds. And after three days of on-ice sessions it was time to officially start the 2nd half of the Ontario Hockey League season on Saturday Night.
DAVID MILLER (6th Round, 2012) would make his OHL debut against Niagara after being recalled by the Hounds in the absence of JARED MCCANN (World U17, Team Ontario) and the Burlington, ON product was not phased by the spotlight.
The IceDogs meanwhile entered shortstaffed as their top three goal scorers – Ryan Strome, Brett Ritchie and Dougie Hamilton represent Team Canada at the World Junior Hockey Championship.
JUSTIN NICHOLS got the call for his 9th start of the season, while Christopher Festarini started, but would not finish the night for the visitors.
The games first best scoring chance came around two minutes in when BRANDON ALDERSON found his way around the IceDog defense off the wing, but was turned aside by Festarini’s blocker.
RYAN SPROUL would not be turned aside seconds later when DAVID BROLL found him to the goalies right and a one-time shot went through for his 6th goal of the year.
Niagara would pull even just under three minutes later when Ryan Shipley’s feed from the left wing went off of Anthony DiFruscia and past Nichols for the 1-1 tie.
The goal came on the IceDogs first shot of the game.
SERGEY TOLCHINSKY regained the Hounds lead before the midway point of the period. With MICHAEL SCHUMACHER as the puck carrier, Tolchinsky rushed the play to create a 2-on-1 for the Hounds. With Schumacher nearly out of room, the winger played the puck from the goal line out to Tolchinsky who fired his 14th goal of the year.
With COLIN MILLER and DARNELL NURSE anchoring the blueline, the Hounds grabbed a two goal lead. After a point shot fired wide, the rebound came off the end boards to the right of the NIagara goal and DAVID BROLL was there to fire the shot into the gapping cage and a 3-1 lead.
Two minutes later more offense came from the defense when DAVID MILLER won the offensive zone face-off back to ALEX GUDBRANSON who’s one time shot from the point beat the NIagara tender high and a 4-1 lead after twenty minutes.
The two teams skated scoreless through the first half of the second period and with under twelve minutes to go, SPROUL looked for his second goal of the night but found the crossbar in behind Festarini.
Then with about seven to go, DARNELL NURSE’s pointshot was about to flip over the Niagara tender before he knocked the puck out to save a goal at the moment.
DYLAN STAPLES would make it a four goal cushion when he stuck with the puck in tight and knocked home his 7th goal of the year at the 14:10 mark.
And with under three minutes to go in the period, NICK COUSINS pounced on a rebound from a BRANDON ALDERSON shot for his 16th of the year and then STAPLES grabbed his 2nd goal of the night finding the puck in a flurry in front and the Hounds led 7-1 after two periods.
The Hounds outshot Niagara 21-9 in the period.
The tame contest (just four minor penalties were called all night) would again go a lengthy time without scoring. After nearly thirteen minutes complete of the third period the IceDogs scored the final two goals of the game.
Ondrej Kopta and Carter Verhaghe tallied but the Hounds skated on to a 7 to 3 victory.
SHOTS ON GOAL
Niagara – 8-9-10= 27
Sault Ste. Marie – 14-21-12= 47
DICKIE’S HARDEST WORKING HOUND
#28 Sergey Tolchinsky
RED STAR THREE STARS OF THE GAME
1- Michael Schumacher, SSM
2- David Miller, SSM
3- Dylan Staples, SSM
The Hounds will now have a quick turnaround as the locals depart 8 a.m. Sunday for their game later that afternoon (2 p.m.) at the Sudbury Wolves.
You can hear all the action beginning with the Bay Mills Resort & Casinos pre-game show at 1:30 p.m. on Rock 101 (101.3 FM, www.rock101.net)
START YOUR NEW YEARS EVE WITH US!
Fans are reminded that the three-game stretch for the Hounds will conclude on New Year’s Eve – Monday, December 31 against the Saginaw Spirit.
Game time is 4 p.m. and the first 2000 fans will receive noisemakers to help celebrate the festivities.
You can get your tickets at the Essar Centre Box Office, online at www.essarcentre.ca or by phone at 1.866.772.9422.
Come join the Hounds to start ringing out 2012!