For the first time since 2008, the Soo Greyhounds have advanced out of the opening round of the Ontario Hockey League playoffs.
The Greyhounds beat the Owen Sound Attack 6-1 on Friday night at the Essar Centre to cap off a 4-1 series win in their Western Conference quarter-final series.
The win is the first playoff series win since the Greyhounds advanced to the OHL’s Western Conference final in 2008 where they lost to the Kitchener Rangers.
The Greyhounds used a quick start to open up a 3-0 lead through one period en route to the win.
“We wanted to come out and assert ourselves early on,” said Greyhounds coach Sheldon Keefe of their start in the win. “It was excellent. The whole 20 minutes was superb.”
Rookie forward Michael Bunting led the way for the Greyhounds with three goals in the win, giving him five in the series.
“He’s just so hungry around the net,” Keefe said of Bunting. “He has such ability from the hash marks down. You really seen it on display here (Friday). He’s fearless and has an unbelievable stick. That’s five goals in the series for him. It’s a credit to the depth we have.”
Alex Gudbranson, Andrew Fritsch and Tyler Gaudet also scored for the Greyhounds in the win while David Miller and Blake Speers had three assists each. Goaltender Matt Murray stopped 30 shots.
“We were in control,” Keefe said of the series. “In the last four games we asserted ourselves and played the way we wanted to. Even though some of the games were close, they really didn’t feel close. We really felt comfortable through these last four games. It’s a credit to our guys.”
“They learned in this series just how good they can be,” said Keefe. “We understand we’re going to move on to face a whole other level of opponent but they learned a lot about themselves in this series.”
Chris Bigras had the lone goal for the Attack in the loss while goaltender Jack Flinn made 25 saves.
“We can sit here and pick apart our game, but we were in this series right through and our young guys played very hard,” said Attack coach Greg Ireland. “I’m proud of how far our team has come from the beginning of the season until now.”
Ireland also spoke highly of the Greyhounds following the game five loss.
“They played a great series and they’re a good, strong, fast team,” Ireland said of the Greyhounds. “We weren’t able to handle them. We’re a team in transition. Our guys did a very good job.”
The Greyhounds now enjoy some time off before facing the high-scoring Erie Otters in the second round of the playoffs.
In other action around the league on Friday night, in Kingston, Josh MacDonald scored at 16:15 of overtime to give the Peterborough Petes a 6-5 win over the Kingston Frontenacs. MacDonald had a pair of goals in the win while Greg Betzold set up three Petes goals. Clark Seymour, Eric Cornel, Nick Ritchie and Stephen Nosad also scored for Peterborough. Spencer Watson, Sam Bennett, Conor McGlynn, Darcy Greenaway and Ryan Verbeek scored for Kingston in the loss.
In Barrie, Mackenzie Blackwood stopped all 24 shots he faced as the Barrie Colts blanked the Sudbury Wolves 7-0. Andreas Athanasiou had two goals and an assist in the win while Brendan Lemieux chipped in with a goal and two helpers. Kevin Labanc also scored twice while Tyson Fawcett and Jonathan Laser also scored for the Colts.
In Guelph, Kerby Rychel had a goal and three assists to lead the Guelph Storm to an 8-3 win over the Plymouth Whalers. Tyler Bertuzzi had two goals and an assist for Guelph while Nick Ebert also scored a pair of goals in the win. Ryan Horvat, Zack Mitchell and Scott Kosmachuk also scored in the win. Zac Leslie chipped in with three assists. Zach Lorentz scored twice for Plymouth. Connor Chatham also scored in the loss while Ryan Hartman set up two goals.
In North Bay, Nick Paul’s goal at 3:35 of the third period held up as the winner as the North Bay Battalion beat the Niagara IceDogs 4-3. Paul and Alex Henriksson scored twice each for North Bay in the win while Zach Bratina and Brendan Miller set up two goals each. Matt Gillard scored twice for Niagara. Blake Siebenaler also scored in the loss.
In OHL playoff action on Thursday night, in St. Catharines, Eric Ming scored a pair of goals as the Niagara IceDogs beat the North Bay Battalion 5-3. Jordan Maletta, Mitchell Fitzmorris and Carter Verhaeghe also scored in the win while goaltender Brent Moran stopped 36 shots. Kyle Wood, Connor Jarvis and Nick Paul scored for the Battalion. Jamie Lewis and Brenden Miller chipped in with two assists each in the loss.
In Sudbury, Danny Desrochers scored the eventual game-winner midway through the second period as the Sudbury Wolves beat the Barrie Colts 2-1. Trevor Carrick had the other goal for the Wolves while goaltender Franky Palazzese stopped 31 shots. Zach Hall had the lone goal for the Colts in the loss.
In Peterborough, goaltender Andrew D’Agostini stopped 46 shots as the Peterborough Petes beat the Kingston Frontenacs 3-1. Josh MacDonald, Steven Lorentz and Hunter Garlent scored for the Petes in the win. Darcy Greenaway had the lone goal for the Frontenacs in the loss. Kingston goaltender Matt Mahalak stopped 37 shots.
In Windsor, Bo Horvat’s goal at 12:58 of the third period turned into the game-winner as the London Knights beat the Windsor Spitfires 4-3. Gemel Smith, Max Domi and Brady Austin also scored for the Knights in the win. Jake Patterson stopped 34 shots for London. Ben Johnson and Sam Povorozniouk had a goal and an assist each in the loss while Ryan Foss also scored. Windsor goaltender Alex Fotinos stopped 31 shots.
In Saginaw, Michael Curtis scored at 2:57 of overtime to lift the Erie Otters to a 3-2 win over the Saginaw Spirit. Connor McDavid and Brendan Gaunce also scored for the Otters. Dane Fox set up a pair of goals for Erie. Jake Paterson made 36 saves for the Spirit in the loss. Justin Kea and Dylan Sadowy scored for the Spirit.
In Mississauga, Hunter Smith scored on the power play at 1:37 of overtime to give the Oshawa Generals a 4-3 win over the Mississauga Steelheads. Josh Sterk had a goal and two assists while Michael Dal Colle added a goal and an assist. Cole Cassels set up three goals. Scott Laughton also scored for the Generals. Sam Babintsev and Bryson Cianfrone had a goal and an assist for Mississauga while Josh Burnside also scored. Spencer Martin stopped 37 shots.
OHL PLAYOFFS SERIES BY SERIES
Guelph beat Plymouth 4-1
Sault Ste. Marie beat Owen Sound 4-1
Erie beat Saginaw 4-1
London beat 4-0
Oshawa beat Mississauga 4-0
Niagara leads North Bay 3-2 – game 6 on Sunday in St. Catharines
Kingston leads Peterborough 3-2 – game 6 on Sunday in Peterborough
Barrie beat Sudbury 4-1
For video highlights, click here
Photo gallery by Kenneth Armstrong for SooToday.com