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Greyhounds trying to stay positive after latest shootout setback

Story by Brad Coccimiglio (Sootoday.com) | Photo by Bob Davies

Remaining optimistic hasn’t necessarily been easy for the Soo Greyhounds at times.

The team has played in 11 one-goal games this season, eight of which have ended in overtime or a shootout.

Extra time has been tough on the team, with the Ontario Hockey League club going 0-8 in those games, losing four in overtime and four by way of the shootout, including a Sunday afternoon loss to the London Knights at the GFL Memorial Gardens.

A shootout goal by Oliver Bonk was the difference as the Knights picked up a 4-3 win over the Greyhounds.

While the results have been disappointing, the players are looking to remain positive despite the struggles in overtime/shootouts.

“If you look at a lot of those games, we’re down,” Greyhounds forward Tyler Savard said. “No teams through the first 20 (games) are going to see overtime eight times and not come out on top. We have to get over that hump. We’re staying positive. The resiliency in this group is absolutely unbelievable. No guys are giving up on each other.”

Greyhounds coach John Dean said daily habits are crucial as the team looks to bounce back and use the experience as a positive.

“We talk a lot about daily habits and believing that if we can just keep hammering the nail, we’ll find success,” Dean said. “It’s a long season and these games, down the road, will be really good for our character.”

Both Savard and Dean noted the positives in Sunday’s game for the Greyhounds.

“Through the 60 minutes of five-on-five, we were the better team and didn’t get rewarded, and that happens,” Savard said.

“We played good enough through 60 to win the hockey game,” Savard added.

“We did what we were supposed to do against a team that’s tired,” Dean said. “We did a really good job of making sure we got pucks behind their D and playing in the offensive zone, making them defend and work after a tough weekend for them. Three major mistakes end up in three goals against.”

Not a coach that says much to his team after losses, Dean didn’t change that mantra following Sunday’s loss, saying “nothing I say is going to make them feel better.”

“They don’t want to see me right now, which I completely understand,” Dean added.

London coach Dale Hunter was pleased with the battle in his team in what was the final game of a weekend that saw the Knights play three games in three days.

“They battled hard,” Hunter said. “(Goaltender Brett Brochu) was really solid. He made some big saves.”

Hunter added that he was pleased with the adjustment made by his players after a first period that saw the visitors take four penalties.

“We took too many penalties early because maybe we were a little tired,” Hunter said. “We had to correct that, and (the players) did after the first period because Broch had to stand tall in the first. Broch kept us in early.”

The Greyhounds opened the scoring just under six minutes into the contest when Tyler Savard found himself in close and scored on an open net after a pass from Kalvyn Watson below the goalline. London goaltender Brett Brochu found himself out of position after making the initial stop on the play on Greyhounds forward Bryce McConnell-Barker.

London tied the game with 3:09 to go in the opening period when Denver Barkey took a pass from Brody Crane and beat Greyhounds starter Charlie Schenkel from in tight with the teams playing 4-on-4.

Just 1:15 later, and with the teams still playing 4-on-4, Logan Mailloux gave London a 2-1 lead as he beat Schenkel with a shot from the left circle high stick side.

Overage forward Mark Duarte tied the game for the Greyhounds at 5:05 of the second period when he drove the net on an odd-man rush and redirected a pass from Savard on the wing past Brochu.

Ryan Del Monte gave London a 3-2 lead 14:04 when he tapped in a loose puck at the top of the crease after a shot by Sean McGurn from the left circle was partially blocked.

The Greyhounds tied the game at 11:59 of the third period when McConnell-Barker redirected a shot in close from Kirill Kudryavtsev, setting the stage for the shootout to end the day.

Watson assisted on three goals for the Greyhounds in the loss. McConnell-Barker and Savard finished the day with a goal and an assist each.

Schenkel stopped 16 shots for the Greyhounds.

Brochu was solid in goal for the Knights, stopping 39 shots.

“He was really good,” Hunter said of the veteran goaltender. “He knew that he had to come up big.”

McGurn had a pair of assists for the Knights in the victory.

The loss drops the Greyhounds record to 5-8-4-4 while the Knights move four games over the .500 mark with a record of 11-7-1-0.

The Greyhounds return to action on Thursday night on the road in the opening game of a three game road trip. The trip will take the team to Erie on Thursday to face the Otters before taking on the Mississauga Steelheads the following night in Mississauga and the Hamilton Bulldogs in Hamilton next Sunday afternoon.

Rookie forward Connor Clattenburg will be eligible to return for the opening game of the trip after serving the final game of his league-imposed three-game suspension on Sunday against London.

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