Greyhounds head into Christmas break with victoryFriday, December 20, 2013 by: Brad Coccimiglio
If there’s one thing the Kitchener Rangers did on Friday night, it was making life tough on the Soo Greyhounds.
The Greyhounds needed a final minute goal to pick up a 5-4 win over the Rangers in Ontario Hockey League action.
The Rangers have made a habit of keeping themselves in games despite their struggles.
“They’re a pretty resilient team and they know what they are and what they aren’t and they’re pretty comfortable in that,” said Greyhounds coach Sheldon Keefe. “They play a pretty simple game and they hang around. That’s why it’s a little bit frustrating for us as a coaching staff that we wouldn’t really get after them and apply the pressure. We wanted to over-shoot the puck tonight and instead we over-passed and tried to force plays instead of just simplifying it. That’s why we were upset is because we know (Kitchener) likes to hang around so we have to find ways to extend the lead and pout the game away.”
Keefe noted that the Greyhounds came to life late as the Rangers held the lead in the latter stages of the second period, forcing the Greyhounds to show some added life.
“The biggest issue that we had was that we didn’t show any initiative offensively or any killer instinct around the net,” said Keefe. “We had the puck a lot, especially in the first half of the game but we weren’t hungry enough to challenge to the net and challenge to the good parts of the ice. We were just trying to make the extra play far too much. It wasn’t until we were really challenged in the game that in terms of getting behind and then tying the game late that our guys came to life and played the way we talked about going in.”
Veteran forward Andrew Fritsch (pictured) had a pair of goals for the Greyhounds, including the game-winner in the final minute of regulation time. Fritsch’s first goal marked career point 200.
“He’s a stabilizing force within our room,” Keefe said of the overage forward. He’s been through so much in the league, guys look up to him. He’s got a very positive attitude and he’s an intelligent player that does a really good job of reinforcing the message from the coaching staff to the players. We really missed him the few games we had to play without him.”
David Miller, Blake Speers and Darnell Nurse also scored for the Greyhounds in the win. Sergey Tolchinsky set up a pair of goals in the win. Rookie goaltender Brandon Halverson stopped 23 shots.
Ben Fanelli, Nick Magyar, Darby Llewellyn and Justin Bailey scored for the Rangers in the loss. Goaltender Matthew Greenfield got the start, stopping 28 shots for the Rangers.
With the win, the Greyhounds record improves to 24-8-1-3. With 52 points, the Greyhounds now enter the Christmas break with a nine-point lead over the second place Windsor Spitfires in the OHL’s West Division.
The Rangers record drops to 12-21-0-1 with the loss.
The Greyhounds are now off until Dec. 29 when they host the Sudbury Wolves in a 2 p.m. start at the Essar Centre.
File photo courtesy SooToday.com's Kenneth Armstrong