Story by soogreyhounds.com | Photo by James Egan Photography
SAULT STE. MARIE, ON-
Overage forward HAYDEN VERBEEK opened and closed the scoring on Friday Night, as the Soo Greyhounds put an exclamation point on their regular season finale against Hamilton in a 10-0 drubbing of the Eastern Conference leaders.
The Kingston, ON native’s first star performance on Friday night circled around a career-best four point game, his first-career hat trick and moved him into the 50+ point club for the very first time as well.
All of this in his 239th career game as a Greyhounds.
Less than one week after suffering a setback to their fellow CHL Top 10 opponent, the Greyhounds never let their foot off the gas pedal while an impressive performance in front of 4,212 fans inside the Essar Centre.
“I think that obviously with the way we played on Sunday in Hamilton, we were looking for a better response from our group and I have to give credit to our leadership group. They took charge early on and took control of the game” began Greyhounds Head Coach Drew Bannister.
“Not a lot of negatives in the game, the kids played hard for 60 minutes. For me thats probably closest to the best 60 minutes played all year. We could tell we were motivated, and driven, we played with a lot of tensity, emotion and speed. We didn’t spend a lot of time in our D zone, were constantly attacking, stayed out of the box, powerplay was good, kids played well” he continued.
HAYDEN VERBEEK got the home side on the board at 8:36 of the first period when RASMUS SANDIN accelerated into the Bulldogs zone, took the shot off the left wing that went off Verbeek and past starting netminder Kaden Fulcher for the 1-0 lead.
Five minutes later (13:20) TIM GETTINGER redirected a RASMUS SANDIN point shot home for his 30th goal of the season and a 2-0 lead.
The home side then buried twice more, scoring twenty-four seconds apart in the final minute, to take a comfortable 4-0 lead into the dressing room after twenty minutes.
MORGAN FROST waited, drug the puck and shot stickside before TAYLOR RADDYSH fired home his 28th of the season finishing off a flurry of offensive zone play to cap off a period in which the Hounds outshot the Bulldogs 15-5.
Hamilton would replace Fulcher, who had made 11 saves on the 15 shots, with Nick Donofrio to start the second period and the younger netminder would remain in the nets the rest of the way.
Under two minutes into the second, (1:52) NOAH CARROLL picked up his 6th goal of the season firing through a maze to make it a 5-0 game.
The 6th Greyhounds goal came at 5:42 when HAYDEN VERBEEK used his speed through neutral ice and then bolted straight through two Hamilton D at their own line in alone and quickly shot high for his second goal of the night.
Just over midway through the period (11:41), MAC HOLLOWELL got in on the action when his point shot squeezed through the five hole of Donofrio to make it 7-0 while RYAN ROTH capped off the second period recording his 12th goal of the year and a 8-0 Greyhounds lead.
The offense in the third period was nearly put to a standstill as the two sides combined for a mere four shots (3 for SSM, 2 for HAM) in the opening ten minutes of the game.
But it would be a pair of late powerplay goals that lifted the Hounds to their highest offensive output of the season while preserving the third shutout of the year for MATTHEW VILLALTA.
MORGAN FROST tipped a TAYLOR RADDYSH shot at 17:15 before VERBEEK capped off the hat trick firing high with ja mere 1.3 seconds left in regulation to finish off the ten goal onslaught.
The final two powerplay goals didn’t sit well with Hamilton Head Coach John Gruden when speaking to media post-game, a situation that was quickly rebutted by the Hounds bench boss.
“When I went out in the third period we had two different (powerplay) units. They took a penalty and I put them out there. They (Hamilton) continued to run around and slash our top players, crosscheck our top players, instigated a fight, so I’m going to put my first unit out there. That’s the way it’s going to be” he explained firmly.
“Have control of your hockey team” added Bannister.
The victory snapped the Greyhounds two-game losing skid while improving the club to 46-6-2-2 on the season, good for 94 points.
“I think there’s more of a sense of urgency to play better as a group, than beating Hamilton. This weekend alone is a difficult weekend – Hamilton’s a good club, Sarnia’s a good club. I think it was more the sense of getting back to playing committed hockey on both sides of the puck” finished Bannister if tonight was about avenging last Sunday’s 5-2 setback in Hamilton.
ATTENDANCE – 4,212
RED STAR THREE STARS OF THE GAME
1- Hayden Verbeek, SSM
2- Rasmus Sandin, SSM
3- Morgan Frost, SSM
To view the OHL Box Score CLICK HERE.
The Greyhounds play their final home game in the month of February TOMORROW – Saturday, February 17- when they host the Sarnia Sting.
Game time is 7:07 PM and is presented by the Canadian Mental Health Association.
Tickets are available by visiting the SK Group Box Office inside the Essar Centre starting Saturday at 10 AM, or you can order online at www.essarcentre.ca or by phone at 1.866.775.9422.