Hounds blow late lead, lose in shootout


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

John Dean left little doubt how he felt on Saturday, minutes after the Soo Greyhounds dropped a 5-4 shootout decision to the Hamilton Bulldogs before 3,589 at GFL Memorial Gardens.

“I’m upset. That’s not a good game for us,” said the veteran head coach, whose club blew a 4-3 lead late in regulation. “It’s very disappointing.”

 With timing winding down, Brenden Sirizzotti, who had scored two impressive goals earlier in the game, turned the puck over in the Hounds zone.  Ben Bujold made a slick feed to Cole Brown on a 2-on-1 and Brown beat Samuel Ivanov with a left-to-right move. That tied the score with 2:08 left in regulation.

After a scoreless overtime in which the Hounds failed to connect on two power-play opportunities, the Bulldogs won it in the shootout.

Nick Lardis scored the clinching goal, putting the puck past Ivanov on the stick side. Trailing 2-1, the fifth shooter, Hounds overage Kalvyn Watson, was thwarted by Hamilton goalie Matteo Drobac to wrap things up.

“We’ve got older guys making huge mistakes in critical minutes,” Dean said of the late turnover. “I’m not sure what some of our guys are thinking. I don’t know if we deserved to win that game, but we definitely shouldn’t have loused it up ahead 4-3.”

“We can’t let that happen,” said Sirizzotti, whose club fell to 14-17-7-5. “That was a game we should have won, 100 per cent. Sammy played unbelievable for us but we let him down.”

Hounds captain Bryce McConnell-Barker also expressed disappointment as his club lost for the 12th time in 15 overtime or shootout games.

“That game should have never gone to overtime,” said McConnell-Barker, who snapped home his 24th goal of the season late in the second period, cutting the Hounds deficit at that point to 3-2. “The turnover led to an odd-man rush and we can’t give up odd-man rushes.”

Hamilton head coach Jay McKee, whose team let a 3-1 lead get away, spoke of the significance of the late tally.

The tying goal came after Hounds rookie Alex Kostov deposited a nifty feed from Jordan D’Intino for a short-handed marker at 12:01 of the third. That gave the home side a 4-3 lead.

“It was a huge goal,” McKee said of Brown’s game-tying tally. “Brownie has the ability to score goals. In a scenario like that, we like to see him with the puck on his stick.”

While McKee was surely happy to see his team improve to 19-19-4-0, Dean lamented some selfish play he saw from members of the red and white.

“We’ve got a lot of guys worried more about personal accolades than getting two points,” said the coach, whose club was outshot 31-27. “Our guys didn’t stick to the structure. They played an individual game instead of a team game.”

On the flip side, the Soo coach spoke of how his opponent maintained structure throughout the contest.

“We played into their trap all night, despite talking about making sure we didn’t,” Dean added.

Forty-five seconds after McConnell-Barker displayed his brilliant ability to shoot the puck, the Hounds tied the game 3-3. Marco Mignosa, who had two assists on the night, fed Sirizzotti on a 2-on-1. The Whitby, Ont., native ripped a shot past Drobac high to the glove-hand side.

That goal, at 18:49, sent the teams into the second intermission tied 3-3.

Brown finished with two goals for the winners while Bujold contributed a goal and an assist. Lardis had the other goal.

“It’s definitely hard when you put yourself out there, when you give it your all and the results aren’t there,” Kostov said of the setback.

Asked about his short-handed marker, the Mississauga native said he loves being aggressive on the penalty-kill.

“When I see the puck go into the other end, I get really excited,” he explained, before praising D’Intino for finding him in front on the short-handed tally. “I definitely feel as if things are moving in my direction.”

While critical of Sirizzotti’s miscue, Dean also praised the 19-year-old (2003 birth year), who has played well while filling in for the injured Mark Duarte at centre.

In 14 games since being acquired from Niagara, Sirizzotti has produced seven goals and six assists.

“He scored two fantastic goals for us. He’s clearly a finisher,” Dean said.

The coach also lauded his club’s penalty-killing efforts. Besides Kostov’s shorty, the Soo managed to thwart the Bulldogs on all five of Hamilton’s power-play chances.

The Soo’s homestand continues on Friday when Sarnia comes to town for a 7:07 p.m. start.

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