by Peter Ruicci (Independent Media) | Photo by Bob Davies
This wasn’t the kind of loss you can just wash off in the post-game shower.
Thursday’s collapse left a bruise.
“Unacceptable,” said Soo Greyhounds winger Cole MacKay, whose team blew a 3-0 lead and dropped a 5-3 decision to the Erie Otters before 3,084 at Erie Insurance Arena. “This one hurts really bad and I’m pretty embarrassed.”
Paced by Brendan Hoffman’s two-goal, one-assist performance, the Otters scored four times in a span of 10:05 in the final period to complete their impressive comeback.
“This one stings for sure, especially after a real good first period,” said Hounds head coach John Dean, whose club was a 5-4 winner over the Otters last Sunday at GFL Memorial Gardens. “Unfortunately, in the third we don’t manage the puck very well. We turned it over in terrible spots and we began to unravel.”
The Soo controlled play, created chances and led 2-0 after the opening 20 minutes. The visitors took a three-goal lead midway through the middle stanza when MacKay took a nice feed from Rory Kerins and slipped a shot past Nolan Lalonde.
But after the Otters trimmed their deficit to 3-1, turnovers lead to Erie’s second goal and again to the Otters’ tying marker.
“We have to do a lot better job of managing the puck,” said Hounds captain Ryan O’Rourke, as his club fell to 11-8-0-0 following the opener of a three-game trip that continues on Friday in Kitchener (7:30 p.m.). “In the third period, we just didn’t do a good job at all of anything.”
“Pretty much every word to describe that game is negative,” added MacKay.
The Otters (5-11-1-0) began their comeback with a power-play goal at 12:22 of the second period. Noah Sedore’s shot through traffic from the left face-off circle beat Hounds’ netminder Charlie Schenkel on the stick side to make it 3-1.
At 3:31 of the third, Hoffman took advantage of a turnover in the Erie zone, skated down the right wing and beat Schenkel blocker side to make it 3-2.
Less than four minutes later, a Greyhounds turnover at the red-line on a line change presented Connor Lockhart with an opportunity. Lockhart raced down ice before firing from the right face-off circle. He scored low on the glove-hand side to tie the game.
But the home team, outshot 29-27 by the Hounds, was far from done.
With Tye Kartye off for roughing, Hoffman took a feed from Brendan Sellan and had lots of room on the left side to give the Otters a 4-3 lead at 11:45. Moments earlier, Spencer Sova’s blast hit behind the goal and rebounded right to Sellan, who set up what proved to be the winner.
The Greyhounds had a chance to tie just seconds later when Lalonde took a roughing minor at 12:09.
Not only did the Hounds not convert on the power play, Erie’s Elias Cohen gained possession, chipped the puck ahead and took off on a breakaway. He slipped home a backhander through Schenkel’s five-hole for a short-handed marker, giving the home side a 5-3 lead at 13:36.
“When they got the momentum, we didn’t do a very good job of getting it back,” said MacKay, who, along with Kerins, had a goal and an assist each in defeat.
Kerins left the ice after blocking a shot late in the third period and didn’t return.
Tanner Dickinson also scored for the Hounds, who’ve dropped four of their last six. Dickinson increased his points streak to eight straight games.
On the Otters’ TV broadcast, Hoffman said the loss in the Sault last Sunday “left a bad feeling in our stomachs. It motivated us this week at practice.”
Looking ahead to Friday’s game in Kitchener, MacKay spoke of how “we’ll collect ourselves, meet as a team and put a good showing together the rest of the weekend.”
“We can’t feel sorry for ourselves, that’s for sure,” added Dean. “We’re going into a barn where Kitchener is desperate for a win. We need a really-good, bounce-back effort.”
Following the clash with the Rangers, the Soo concludes its trip on Sunday in Sarnia. Start time is 2:07 p.m.