RECAP; Hounds prove too much to handle


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

Firepower is as good as currency in the Ontario Hockey League.

Just ask the Soo Greyhounds.

Or their opponents.

By breaking open a 2-2 tie with five unanswered goals on Sunday, the Hounds rolled to a 7-2 victory over the Saginaw Spirit before 2,476 at GFL Memorial Gardens.

The top-ranked power play in the 20-team loop erupted for three goals on four chances, as the Hounds extended a winning streak to three games for the first time this season.

“I’m very impressed by the speed and skill on this team,” said first-year centre Bryce McConnell-Barker, who notched his 10th goal of the season, a power-play marker, and also contributed an assist. “We’re very fast and have great ability to make plays. When we stick to our system, we’re very effective.”

Do the Hounds believe they’re the most-skilled team in the league?

“We’re right up there,” said centre Tanner Dickinson, who scored once with the man advantage and once even strength while also contributing an assist. “Obviously speed and skill are a huge part of our team. And when we stick with the system, there’s no reason we can’t win every night.”

While watching his club improve to 14-9-0-0, head coach John Dean spoke of how pleased he was to see his team generating chances.

Dean described the Soo’s performance as a “really consistent 60 minutes,” while also repeating what’s become a mantra of sorts for the Hounds. “When we do things right, we’re capable of being a highly-offensive team.”

With the score tied 2-2 and the Spirit hanging around in their third game in four days, the Hounds began to flex their offensive muscle.

A beautiful tic-tac-toe passing play from Dickinson to Cole MacKay to Tye Kartye resulted in the big winger’s 13th power-play goal of the season.

Goal No. 20 overall for Kartye made it 3-2 at 6:39 of the second period.

Six minutes later, Rory Kerins fed Rob Calisti in the high slot and the overage defenceman ripped home his ninth of the season to make it 4-2.

Calisti, who also contributed an assist, has now scored goals in three straight games.

Less than three minutes after that, McConnell-Barker made a slick feed in front to Marco Mignosa and the first-year winger redirected his fifth goal past Spirit netminder Andrew Oke.

Before the period ended, Dickinson swooped down the left wing, circled the Saginaw goal and netted a wrap-around marker to make it 6-2 at 18:53.

“They’re deadly when they get opportunities and we gave them too many really-good opportunities,” said Spirit head coach Chris Lazary, whose club fell to 10-10-1-0.

Lazary, whose team had stopped the Soo 4-1 on Nov. 17 in Saginaw, was referring to a handful of breakaways and odd-man rushes his club permitted.

Part of that, the coach agreed, has to do with the puck-possession style his club plays.

“It’s style, but it’s also guys not managing risk,” said Lazary, whose club was outshot 33-16. “We’re a young team trying to find our way.”

The Hounds also surrendered too many odd-man rushes and breakaways. One break resulted in an infraction and a penalty shot. But netminder Samuel Ivanov turned away Saginaw’s P.J. Forgione with a blocker save midway through the third period.

Overall, however, the Hounds gave their opponents few Grade A chances.

“We worked very hard defensively coming back into our own zone,” said Dean, whose team is slated to begin a three-game road trip on Thursday (7 p.m.) in North Bay. “We did a good job of keeping stuff to the perimeter.”

Rookie winger Ethan Montroy, with his first OHL goal, rounded out the scoring for the winners. After Saginaw’s Ian Phillips had given the visitors a 1-0 lead,  Montroy redirected an Owen Allard feed through the five-hole on Oke.

“Their defenceman deflected the pass and I just touched it,” the grinning Glen Walter, Ont., product said of his goal, 10:21 into the game. “You work since you’re four-years-old for this – it’s an unreal experience.”

That experience was made even sweeter by the fact Montroy’s mother, Lynn, was in the stands on Sunday.

“I can’t even describe how much fun I’m having this season,” the player added.

Kerins added three assists for the Hounds, giving him nine points in his last three games, while improving his stat line to 13-26-39. That’s tied for third in league scoring.

Meantime, Sault native Cam Baber, the Spirit captain, had the other goal in defeat.

Following a Hounds turnover, Baber took a feed from Sebastien Gervais and snapped a shot from the slot, beating Ivanov through the five-hole late in the opening period. That tied the score 2-2.

Following the North Bay clash, the Hounds are slated to visit Sudbury on Friday (7:05 p.m.) and Sunday (2:05 p.m.).

However, due to a COVID-19 outbreak among Sudbury players, the Wolves last three games have been postponed.

When asked on Sunday, Dean said he hasn’t heard anything about the status of the weekend games.

A league announcement regarding Sudbury’s upcoming schedule is expected this week.

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