by Peter Ruicci (Independent Media) | Photo by Bob Davies
Seriously, what are the chances?
In his last complete season, defenceman Caeden Carlisle scored just three times in 33 games as a member of the Mississauga Senators AAA U16 team.
Following the 2019-2020 season, the physical, defensive-minded defenceman was taken by the Soo Greyhounds in the fifth round of the Ontario Hockey League draft.
Going into Sunday, the first-year player hadn’t scored in the first six games of the 2021-2022 OHL campaign.
But Carlisle tallied twice on Sunday, netting the first two goals of the game – and, of course, the first two of his career – as the Hounds hung on to defeat the pesky Erie Otters 5-4 before 2,476 at GFL Memorial Gardens.
Asked about the odds of him producing a two-goal game, Carlisle answered quickly.
“One in 100. I wouldn’t have imagined it,” chuckled the 17-year-old (2004 birth year) Mississauga native. “I haven’t scored two in a game in maybe five years.”
Taking a moment to give it further thought, Carlisle added: “I can’t remember the last time I scored twice in a game.”
But this is one he’ll not soon forget.
“Caeden has been progressing exceptionally well,” said Hounds head coach John Dean, who’s now written the youngster’s name into the lineup for four consecutive games. “He’s physical and he has underrated skill.”
In particular, Dean spoke of the play the defenceman made on his first goal.
“He jumps into the neutral zone, grabs the middle of the ice, passes the puck and then drives the net,” said Dean, whose club improved to 11-7-0-0 heading into a three-game road trip which begins on Thursday with a rematch in Erie. “That’s Soo Greyhounds hockey.”
Carlisle’s maneuvers had him in perfect position to score his first goal at 9:11 of the opening period. Otters netminder Nathan Lalonde stopped a Marco Mignosa shot and the rebound hit Carlisle in the stomach before bouncing into the goal.
The Soo made it 2-0 eight minutes later when Carlisle’s shot from just inside the left point beat Lalonde through traffic.
Despite a scare or two, the Hounds never trailed.
“There were a lot of things to like about that game,” said Dean, whose club put incredible pressure on Lalonde. “We came in with the intent to be aggressive and play a really-good half-ice game. I thought both our D and forwards did a great job of it.”
Were it not for Erie’s rookie netminder, the outcome wouldn’t have been close.
“He was great. He played his tail off for us,” said Otters’ head coach B.J. Adams, whose club was outshot 31-12 over the first two periods and 39-26 overall. “He gives us confidence and he keeps us in the game.”
However, Dean spoke of how the Greyhounds “need to capitalize on our opportunities and put pucks in the back of the net so we don’t give teams life.”
And that’s what the Otters found both late in the second and third periods.
Cameron Morton beat Soo goalie Samuel Ivanov on the short side at 18:19 of the middle frame to draw the Otters to within 3-2. It’s a save opportunity Ivanov would surely like back.
With the Greyhounds leading 4-2 Noah Sedore scored through traffic on the power play at 7:28 of the third period to make it 4-3.
And with the home side up 5-3 and Lalonde on the bench for a sixth attacker, Christian Kyrou beat Ivanov five-hole through traffic with 1:46 left in regulation.
Agreeing Ivanov wasn’t as sharp as he could have been, Dean said his netminder may have grown cold with play at the other end of the ice for extended periods.
“He has to get used to that,” the coach continued. “But he clearly shows signs of brilliance and the thing I love about Sammy is that when you really need him, he steps up to the plate.”
Asked if he had considered starting fellow rookie Charlie Schenkel, who’s been solid in a backup role of late, the coach said yes.
“We’ve made it clear to both that whoever is going well, is going to get the net,” Dean added.
“We dominated play for most of the game, two-and-a-half periods,” said Hounds centre Rory Kerins, who notched a power-play goal, contributed a pair of assists and made a key shot block late in regulation. “We stuck with it and we didn’t change the way we played when we weren’t scoring.”
Tanner Dickinson, on the power play, and Jordan D’Intino had the other goals for the home team. Mignosa and Ryan O’Rourke finished with two assists each.
“It feels good to get one and help the team win,” D’Intino said of his second career marker. “I feel as if I’ve been creating chances and have been all around the puck. But I haven’t been able to bury one.”
That was before he banged in the rebound of a Bryce McConnell-Barker shot to give the Soo a 4-2 lead early in the third.
Brendan Hoffman, on the power play, had the other goal for the Otters, who fell to 4-11-1-0.
Following next Thursday’s game in Erie (7 p.m.), the Hounds are slated to visit Kitchener on Friday (7:30 p.m.) and Sarnia on Sunday (2:05 p.m.).