Early deficit dooms Greyhounds
by Peter Ruicci (Independent Media) | Photo by Bob Davies
Hitting the showers couldn’t have come soon enough for the Soo Greyhounds on Sunday.
After surrendering four goals in a span of 2:51, the Hounds trailed the Windsor Spitfires 6-2 by the 1:51 mark of the second period.
And the home team had just three shots-on-goal at that point.
“That was probably the worst 40 minutes we’ve played this year,” said head coach John Dean, whose team wound up dropping a 9-4 decision to the Spits before 3,983 at GFL Memorial Gardens. “Self-inflicted wounds and lack of compete, we laid an egg, it’s pretty obvious. There can’t be many guys (in the dressing room) feeling good about the game.”
“I’m pissed off. Everyone knows we’re trying to fight for a playoff spot here and efforts like that aren’t good enough,” added centre Jordan D’Intino, whose club dropped its fourth straight and has the unenviable task of facing the Spitfires again, opening a two-game trip in Windsor on Thursday (7:05 p.m.). “Our D-zone play, the full five-man unit, just wasn’t very good today.”
Asked what disappointed him the most about the Soo’s performance, overage winger Kalvyn Watson didn’t hesitate.
“Lackadaisical efforts bothered me the most,” he answered. “Guys, including me, weren’t giving second efforts. Obviously, you feel embarrassed when you lose a game like that.”
With the score tied 2-2 late in the opening period, the Spits began to take total control when Matthew Maggio scored at the 19:00 mark. On an odd-man rush, Jacob Maillet made a slick feed to Maggio, who wasted no time in whipping home his 35th goal from the slot.
Just 43 seconds later, Michael Renwick found Maggio down low and the Spits veteran hit Maillet who was cruising alone in front. Maillet tapped his 15th past Samuel Ivanov and it was 4-2.
Then, just 39 seconds into the middle frame, a Soo turnover proved costly. From the slot area, Maggio found a wide-open Brett Harrison alone on the left side and he beat a sprawling Ivanov on the stick side.
Alex Christopoulos found himself alone at the side of the net off a feed by Oliver Peer. His 29th of the season gave the visitors a four-goal cushion at the 1:51 mark.
That spelled the end of the day for Ivanov, who was replaced by rookie Landon Miller.
“We hung Sammy out to dry, there’s no doubt about it,” said Dean, whose club fell to 14-19-7-5, tied with Kitchener (19-21-2-0) for eighth place in the Western Conference, although the Rangers have three games in hand. “Windsor set the tone in this game and I don’t think we responded very well, unfortunately. Three or four pretty-big mistakes and the puck ends up in the back of the net.”
Harrison, Christopoulos and Liam Greentree had two goals each for the Spits, who snapped a three-game losing streak while improving to 29-12-3-1. Maggio contributed a goal and three assists, Maillet had a goal and an assist while former Hound Jacob Holmes capped the scoring. Renwick helped set up a pair of goals.
Asked if he could sense a hunger among his players after dropping the first two games of their road trip, Spits heads coach Marc Savard said yes.
“I’m proud of the guys effort. Everybody played well and it was a great bounce-back for us,” said Savard, whose team outshot the Soo 42-19. “We skated well and jumped on their D all day. We’re pushing for first overall in the league.”
D’Intino scored twice for the Hounds, up to 18 on the season for the London, Ont., native. Bryce McConnell-Barker had a goal and an assist while Marco Mignosa was the other Soo shooter to beat Joey Costanzo.
Watson contributed a pair of assists.
If there was a bright spot for the home side, it was the play of Miller, the Soo’s second-round selection (No. 42 overall) in the 2022 Priority Selections draft.
After Greentree scored a soft goal from a bad angle, making it 7-2 at 4:34 of the middle stanza, Miller’s game began to come together. The Barrie, Ont., native made a number of impressive saves in the final frame as Windsor was outshooting the Hounds 16-8.
“Miller was fantastic,” Dean said. “He probably wants that first one back. But he got thrown into the fire and, after that goal, he settled in nicely.”
As for what has to change on Thursday, McConnell-Barker talked about the Hounds need for improvement in their own end of the ice.
“We have to be more dialed in in our D zone,” the captain added. “We can’t be running around in our own zone.”
Following the Windsor game, the Soo is slated to visit Sarnia on Friday at 7:05. The Soo then returns home to face Mississauga on Sunday at 2:07 p.m.
Windsor’s celebrated centre Shane Wright missed the contest with a lower-body injury. Wright, who began the season with the NHL’s Seattle Kraken, was dealt by Kingston to Windsor at the trade deadline. With the Spits, the 19-year-old (2004 birth year) has five goals and six assists in six games.