‘Big’ mistakes prove costly


by Peter Ruicci (Independent Media) | Photo by Bob Davies

Like an over-chewed piece of gum, mistakes have ground down the 2022-2023 Soo Greyhounds.

Miscues were costly again on Wednesday, as the Hounds dropped a 7-3 decision to the Sudbury Wolves before 2,671 at Sudbury Community Arena.

A 3-0 deficit proved too much for the Hounds to overcome, and even though they rallied back to within 3-2 and 4-3, the third period was representative of much of the season.

“We made two major mistakes on the goals they scored in the third,” said head coach John Dean, whose team skated in its final road game of the season. “We made major mistakes the whole game, as did they. Major mistakes continue to bite us in the butt. They’ve been the story of our year.”

Dean spoke of how he was pleased with his team’s compete level and how difficult it is to see opponents take advantage of blunders.

“Play well, play well, play well, major mistake, back of our net,” the coach said. “So many good moments in the game are followed by a catastrophic mistake. When we make mistakes, we make big ones.”

A bad turnover led to an early lead for the Wolves, who improved to 28-27-5-3, while clinching an Eastern Conference playoff spot in the process. Nicholas Yearwood gobbled up the puck, fired from the left face-off circle and Landon McCallum deposited the rebound past Samuel Ivanov.

That made it 1-0 just 2:21 in.

Just 2:19 into the middle frame, McCallum had free reign at the side of the Soo net. He batted home the rebound of a Yearwood shot which had hit the end boards to make it 2-0. Two minutes later, the Soo was unable to clear its zone when Kocha Delic took the puck at the blue-line. He skated in alone and beat Ivanov on the glove side to give the home team a 3-0 lead at the 4:35 mark.

After an apparent goal by Caleb Van De Ven at 5:39 was wiped out due to goaltender interference, Connor Clattenburg took matters into his own hands.

Twelve seconds later, on a beautiful individual effort, Clattenburg sped down the left side and used a slick left-to-right deke to beat Wolves goalie Kevyn Brassard. Clattenburg’s second goal of the season cut the Soo’s deficit to 3-1.

Dean said he didn’t agree with the interference call, but called Clattenburg’s goal “awesome, wasn’t it. That was a great moment. It really rallied the bench.”

“When they called back the goal that Vandy scored, that kind of fired me up,” Clattenburg said. “I don’t know how it happened. I just went down and scored.”

Just 2:32 later, Bryce McConnell-Barker’s drop pass to Julian Fantino resulted in the Soo’s second goal. Fantino snapped a wicked shot from the slot, beating Brassard high to the blocker side to make it 3-2.

But the Wolves benefitted from a strange goal 36 seconds later.

Nolan Collins sent a backhander to the net and the puck deflected off of Nathan Villeneuve before bouncing through the legs of Ivanov.

That gave the home side a 4-2 advantage.

Sudbury took back-to-back penalties late in the middle frame to give the visitors a golden opportunity.

The Wolves were assessed a too-many-men minor at 18:17, before Andre Anania was whistled for delay of game at 18:56.

Skating 5-on-3, a patient Kalvyn Watson beat Brassard on the short side, firing from the left wing for his 31stgoal of the season.

Down just 4-3 at the start of the third period, the Hounds could get no closer. No one got a body on Evan Konyen, who got a stick on a loose puck in front of the net at 14:46.

Konyen added an empty-net goal before Matthew Mania capped the scoring at 18:36 on a goal Ivanov would surely want back. On a night when the Wolves held a 39-35 edge in shots, McCallum finished with two goals and two assists while Yearwood had three assists.

McConnell-Barker had a pair of assists for the Hounds, who fell to 18-31-9-6.

In a season where they’ll miss the playoffs for the first time since the 2011-2012 campaign, the Greyhounds have four home games remaining.

The Soo is set to entertain Windsor on Friday and Saturday, both beginning at 7:07 p.m., at GFL Memorial Gardens.

Dean said he spoke to his players after the game about attitude, approach to the game and compete level.

“And all three of those things we had tonight,” the coach added.

As for the team’s remaining games, Dean stressed the importance of “showing respect for your teammates by putting out 110 per cent. That’s the message. Show you respect the guy beside you by the compete level you put in. Tonight, I thought we showed each other a lot of respect.”

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