by Peter Ruicci (Independent Media) | Photo by Bob Davies
They overcame a slow start on Friday, but couldn’t survive the disparity in special teams success.
The Soo Greyhounds surrendered three power-play goals, while scoring just once with the man advantage. They also permitted a short-handed marker, en route to a 5-4 loss to the Kitchener Rangers before 4,630 at the Kitchener Memorial Auditorium.
It marked the second straight night special teams betrayed the Soo. The Hounds gave up two power-play goals, while failing to score once themselves, and were also stung by a short-handed marker in Thursday’s 5-3 loss in Erie.
“Special teams killed us,” Hounds winger Tye Kartye, who scored his 16th and 17th goals in defeat, said Friday. “They out-executed us in that part of the game. We didn’t block shots, we didn’t battle hard enough to get it done.”
“Special teams was obviously a big issue,” added Hounds head coach John Dean, whose club has dropped five of its last seven, falling to 11-9-0-0 heading into Sunday’s 2:05 p.m. start in Sarnia. “We didn’t get in front of some shots, we had some missed assignments. It’s unacceptable. It’s got to be better.”
If it was on Friday, “we probably win a hockey game,” Dean offered.
Instead, the Rangers improved to 9-10-0-0, snapping a three-game losing streak overall, and a six-game losing skid at the Aud.
With Friday’s score tied 4-4, Mitchell Martin tapped a rebound in front of the Soo goal past Samuel Ivanov. The power-play marker at 8:02 of the third period stood up as the winner.
Hounds defenceman Rob Calisti left little doubt as to how he and his teammates are feeling going into Saturday’s off day on the Ontario Hockey League schedule.
“I’m very frustrated,” said Calisti, whose powerful shot led to a redirection goal by Kartye and a rebound opportunity Tyler Dickinson deposited behind Rangers netminder Pavel Cajan. “It’s one of those times right now where we have to dig a little deeper and we all have to be better.”
Asked what he sees as his most-important role at this point, Dean talked of “building our morale up and getting the swagger back.”
He also spoke of how “confidence is half the battle” for the Greyhounds players. “When you start believing in yourself you start competing a little harder and you’re not afraid to make mistakes.”
After giving up five unanswered goals in Erie, the Hounds started slowly 24 hours later.
Reid Valade’s short-handed goal and Roman Schmidt’s power-play marker staked the Rangers to a 2-0 lead before the game was nine-minutes old. Kartye’s first of two trimmed the Soo’s deficit to 2-1 despite the fact Kitchener outshot the Soo 18-7 in the opening period.
Dickinson tied the game 1:30 into the second period, but the Rangers retook the lead less than seven minutes later. Justin Nolet’s first of two handcuffed Ivanov, who got just a piece of it with his glove.
With the home team leading 3-2, Cole MacKay banged home his own rebound for a Greyhounds’ power-play goal late in the second period.
Tied 3-3 early in the third, Kartye mixed it up with Rangers defenceman Arber Xhekaj. Both received roughing minors with the Soo player getting an additional two for roughing.
Kitchener’s power-play chance set the table for Nolet to score his second of the game, as he beat Ivanov high to the glove side through traffic before the period was three minutes old.
Kartye redeemed himself redirecting a Kirill Kudryavtsev drive past Cajan to tie the game at 6:00. Afterward, the overage spoke of how he’s “the first guy to admit I took stupid penalties.”
Calisti also talked of how the Greyhounds must be more disciplined.
Asked if his players suffered a hangover from Thursday’s frustrating defeat, Dean said: “There was a bit of that. When you don’t have that real confidence, you tend to hesitate and hesitancy in hockey is not good.”
Dickinson and Justin Cloutier joined Calisti in contributing two assists each for the Hounds, who wound up outshooting Kitchener 40-39.