What was expected to be one of their toughest tests on home ice turned into a breakout game.
With the Ontario Hockey League’s top team in the Erie Otters at the Essar Centre, the Soo Greyhounds scored an 8-2 win over the league leaders to end a four-game homestand on a high note.
Thanks to four power play goals, the Greyhounds broke out offensively in the win, which was a change of pace for the team.
“It’s a sign that it’s your night,” Greyhounds coach Sheldon Keefe said of the Greyhounds four power play goals. “It seemed that for a good chunk of the game, everything was going to find the back of the net. That’s the way it goes. It was the opposite on Wednesday night against Plymouth. We can’t buy a goal against Plymouth and then tonight we play one of the best defensive teams in the country and one of the top goaltenders. That’s junior hockey.”
The Greyhounds finished the night 4-for-6 on the power play in the win.
“Our start to the game was very good but we were down because our penalty kill let us down, which it hasn’t done all season,” said Otters coach Kris Knoblauch.
Bryan Moore paced the Greyhounds offensively with three goals and an assist in the win while Blake Speers, Jared McCann and Darnell Nurse had three assists each for the Greyhounds.
Keefe credited McCann and Sergey Tolchinsky, who had a goal and an assist for the Greyhounds, for helping calm things early on in the game.
“I was thrilled with the effort,” said Keefe. “It took us a while early in the game. We were a little taken aback by them and were on our heels. The (Jared) McCann, (Sergey) Tolchinsky combination really settled us into the game. The Tolchinsky goal was big. He was excellent and McCann was world class. They really settled our game down.”
Kyle Jenkins also had a goal and an assist for the Greyhounds while Tyler Gaudet, David Miller and Andrew Fritsch had the other Greyhound goals.
“Coming in, we felt strongly that if we won the special teams battle tonight we would have a good chance at success,” said Keefe. “We weren’t expecting the outburst that we had, but it was a long-time coming for our power play. We’ve seen signs of life from our power play in spurts. We’ve continued to work at it. Today it just came together nicely.”
Greyhounds goaltender Matt Murray made 39 saves in the win.
Connor Brown and Nick Betz scored for Erie in the loss. Oscar Dansk got the start for Eri, stopping 26 of 32 Greyhounds shots before being pulled. Devin Williams came in and stopped three of five shots in the final 16 minutes of action.
“Right now there’s a lot of frustration and it’s tough to play the game when you’re frustrated,” said Knoblauch. “The last three weeks we haven’t been playing near the way we were earlier in the season. We worked for everything and teams aren’t taking us lightly. Teams know they have to play their best to beat us and we can’t just show up for games.”
Erie scored once in three power play attempts in the game, which was the second of just two meetings between the two clubs this season.
The Greyhounds are back in action on Wednesday night when they travel to Sudbury to take on the Wolves for the final regular season matchup between the two clubs. The team then returns home for weekend games against Kitchener on Saturday night and Guelph on Sunday afternoon.