The Soo Greyhounds regained home ice advantage in their Western Conference quarter-final series with the Owen Sound Attack on Monday night in Owen Sound.
The Greyhounds beat the Attack 5-3 in game three of their opening playoff series to take a 2-1 series lead after splitting the opening two games in Sault Ste. Marie over the weekend.
The win is the second-straight for the Greyhounds in the series after a disappointing effort in the series opener on Friday night.
“That’s two games now that I’ve really liked the way we’ve worked,” said Greyhounds coach Sheldon Keefe.
The two teams skated to a scoreless opening period before the Greyhounds opened up a 3-0 lead thanks to goals by Darnell Nurse, Andrew Fritsch and Jean Dupuy 2:10 apart. The Attack would cut the lead to 3-2 before Nurse scored a shorthanded marker at 8:37 of the third. The Attack would score a power play goal 59 seconds later before Dylan Corson sealed the win for the Greyhounds at 15:51 of the third.
“He scored a big power play goal to open the game for us and then shorthanded, he shot out of a cannon to join the rush and finish that off,” Keefe said of Nurse. “To show the initiative to make that play (shorthanded) just shows the type of player that he is.”
Alex Gudbranson, Sergey Tolchinsky and Tyler Gaudet had two assists each for the Greyhounds while Matt Murray made 35 saves.
“I thought he was great the whole game,” Keefe said of Murray. “He was back to the level that we’re used to seeing of him. He battled hard in the third as they came hard to the net. There was a lot of traffic there and they made contact three or four times so he had to fight through that and did a really good job for us.”
The Greyhounds finished the night with a pair of power play goals in four opportunities along with a shorthanded goal in the win.
“They were definitely a difference,” said Keefe. “Obviously in the second period, they got back-to-back power plays and it’s a big opportunity for (Owen Sound) to take over the game but our guys did an exceptional job killing them and we got our opportunities after that and made them count. Ultimately, in the second period, those penalty kills and then the power play goals were the difference in the game.”
Keefe would also note the importance of Nurse’s shorthanded goal early in the third period.
“If we don’t score that shorty and they get the goal that they did get, it’s a much different situation,” Keefe said. “All the way around, special teams were very big for us.”
Thomas Schemitsch, Kyle Hope and Zach Nastasiuk scored for Owen Sound in the loss. Goaltender Brandon Hope made 27 saves for the Attack.
The series resumes with game four on Wednesday night in Owen Sound. Game five is set for Friday night at the Essar Centre.
Monday’s lone other game on the schedule saw Cody Payne score at 4:13 of overtime to give the Saginaw Spirit a 7-6 win over the Erie Otters. The Otters lead the series 2-1. Jimmy Lodge had two goals and an assist for Saginaw in the win while Dylan Sadowy chipped in with a pair of goals. Eric Locke and Jacob Ringuette had the other goals for Saginaw in the win. Spirit goaltender Jake Paterson stopped 46 shots. Brendan Gaunce had two goals and an assist for the Otters in the loss while Andre Burakovsky chipped in with a pair of goals. Spencer Abraham and Adam Pelech also scored for Erie while Dane Fox, Connor Brown and Dylan Strome had two assists each for the Otters.
In other action around the league, on Sunday the Niagara IceDogs evened their series with the North Bay Battalion thanks to a 3-2 win in North Bay in game two. Carter Verhaeghe scored at 19:19 of the third period to lift the IceDogs to the win. Verhaeghe had a goal and an assist in the win while goaltender Brent Moran stopped 34 shots. Anthony DiFruscia and Jordan Maletta also scored for Niagara. Nick Paul and Brenden Miller scored for North Bay.
In Oshawa, Cole Cassels scored on the power play at 6:48 of overtime to give the Oshawa Generals a 3-2 win over the Mississauga Steelheads. The Generals scored three unanswered goals in the game. Bradley Latour and Josh Sterk had the other goals for Oshawa as they took a 2-0 series lead in the process. Mississauga goaltender Spencer Martin made 36 saves in the loss. Lucas Venuto and Brett Foy scored for the Steelheads.
Sunday’s other game saw the Kingston Frontenacs take a 2-0 series lead over the Peterborough Petes thanks to Roland McKoen’s power play goal at 8:27 of overtime, giving the Frontenacs a 5-4 win. Robert Polesello scored a pair of goals for Kingston while Sam Bennett chipped in with a goal and two assists. Ryan Kujawinski also scored. Eric Cornel scored a pair of goals for the Petes while Michael Clarke and Greg Betzold had a goal and an assist each in the loss.
File photo by SooToday.com's Kenneth Armstrong