A divisional game for the Soo Greyhounds turned into a disappointment on Wednesday night at the Essar Centre.
The Greyhounds dropped a 5-1 decision to the Plymouth Whalers in Ontario Hockey League action as the Greyhounds continued a four-game homestand.
A pair of Whalers goals 20 seconds apart late in the second period made things difficult for the Greyhounds to mount a comeback. Zach Lorentz and Yannick Rathgeb scored the second period goals for the Whalers giving them a 3-0 lead at the time.
“It was one of our more dominant games of the season in terms of possession after 40 minutes,” said Greyhound coach Sheldon Keefe. “To be down 3-0, it was one of those nights where the puck goes in for them but doesn’t go in for us.”
The quick goals have become somewhat of a trademark for the Whalers this season.
“To score two quick goals was the key and that’s how our team has been all year,” Whalers coach Mike Vellucci said. “We don’t score a lot of goals but we’ll score back-to-back really quick.”
Keefe credited the Whalers in the game despite carrying the play possession-wise.
“They protect the middle of the ice with five guys clogging the middle and they don’t give up the high-end chance so you’ve got to take what you can get,” said Keefe. “We spent a lot of time in their end and got a lot of pucks on their goaltender. He didn’t crack on anything through 40 minutes. The game was lost in the second period where we have a dominant period and come out of it down 3-0.”
Said Vellucci: “Our guys were really disciplined, we clogged up the neutral zone and kept them to the outside. We kept their speed as much as possible to the outside. We followed the game plan to a T.”
Ryan Hartman had two goals and an assist in the win while linemate Carter Sandlak chipped in with two assists. Their linemate, Zach Lorentz, also scored in the win.
“They played really well and the other line of (Francesco) Vilardi, (Connor) Chatham and (Bryce) Yetman had a great game too,” said Vellucci. “Those are two decent lines.”
Vilardi also scored for the Whalers in the win while goaltender Alex Nedeljkovic stopped 40 shots.
“The chances were pretty even in the game and he made the saves,” Vellucci said of Nedeljkovic. “Our guys did a good job of keeping them to the outside and blocking shots.”
Jared McCann had the lone goal for the Greyhounds in the loss while rookie netminder Brandon Halverson stopped 22 shots.
“I wasn’t thrilled with our third period, especially the latter half of it but the first two periods were fine,” said Keefe. “There was nothing wrong with our game other than the puck going over the line.”
Keefe would also say that he felt some players needed to step up in the game.
“There were some guys individually that I thought could have given us more but in terms of how we played, we were in control of the puck and the play,” said Keefe. “They capitalized on a mistake in the first period and we weren’t able to capitalize on any of their mistakes.”
With the loss, the Greyhounds record falls to 37-16-1-4. Meanwhile, the Whalers, who are in a battle for the final playoff spot in the Western Conference, improve to 22-29-0-6 and increase their lead over the ninth-seeded Kitchener Rangers to five points.
The Greyhounds wrap up their four-game homestand on Saturday evening when they host the high-flying Erie Otters in a 7:07 p.m. start at the Essar Centre.