A three-goal outburst was the difference for the Soo Greyhounds on Wednesday night.
By scoring three goals in the final five minute of the first period on Wednesday night, the Soo Greyhounds wrapped up their three-game homestand with a 6-3 win over the Saginaw Spirit at the Essar Centre.
In what Greyhounds coach Sheldon Keefe thought was their best period of the night, the Greyhounds opened up a 4-1 lead through the first period in the win. The Greyhounds scored three times in the final 4:32 of the period to build up the lead after trading goals with the Spirit early on in the frame.
“We did what we wanted to do in the first period in terms of challenging their goaltender,” said Keefe. “We had 20 shots on goal and found a way to get four by him. We really liked that. We really wanted to challenge the crease and we got some fortunate bounces but we earned them because we kept challenging to the crease.”
Keefe called it a tough game because of the early lead.
“It’s a tough game to play when, early in the game, it seems like everything is going to go your way,” said Keefe. “It’s tough on the mindset of the players and I understand that.”
“I just didn’t like our game,” said Keefe. “We were too loose, we gave up too many free rushes against and obviously the third period was a mess. We couldn’t get out of our end. I’m not really thrilled with the game but that being said, it’s a tough game to play when you’re up 4-1 or 5-1. It’s tough on the mind with the type of players we have. They want to get going offensively and they think it’s going to be their night. That’s a tough game for us to play but I’m certainly not happy with how it closed out.”
After being outshot 20-14 in the opening period, the Spirit outshot the Greyhounds 31-21 through the final 20 minutes.
“They were silly mistakes and stuff we should know by now,” said Spirit coach Greg Gilbert of the final five minutes of the opening period. “For the life of me, I don’t understand why we don’t get it. There’s nights where we execute well, make the simple plays and everything works. If you turn pucks over against teams like the Soo, they’re going to make you pay for it and that’s what happened.”
“You can’t dig that big a hole against a good club and expect to come back,” added Gilbert.
Trent Mallette, Patrick Watling and Bryan Moore scored in the final five minutes of the first period to help lift the Greyhounds to the early lead. Sergey Tolchinsky also scored in the first period for the Greyhounds.
Watling finished the night with a pair of goals while Tyler Gaudet and Kyle Jenkins set up two goals each for the Greyhounds. Jared McCann also scored for the Greyhounds.
Goaltender Matt Murray stopped 42 shots in the win.
“He was really good,” Keefe said of the veteran netminder. “They essentially scored two breakaway goals, which was another thing I’m not thrilled about. The second one was a tough break. The guy poked it in while he’s diving for it. (Murray) was great. We gave up over 40 shots and a lot of them were clean, hard shots. He looked really solid.”
Cody Payne, Eric Locke and Dylan Sadowy scored for the Spirit in the loss. Locke’s goal came on a third-period penalty shot.
Jake Paterson stopped 16 of 20 shots in the opening period before being pulled. Nikita Serebryakov stopped 20 of 22 shots in the final two periods.
“They hung him out to dry,” Gilbert said of the Spirit play in front of Paterson. “He’s been good for us. We gave Nik an opportunity to play and he did good for us too. When they guys in front of the goalie don’t help him out, it’s like a sacrificial lamb. I couldn’t put (Paterson) through much more of that.”
The Greyhounds now prepare for five games on the road, beginning this weekend with games in Sudbury on Saturday night before playing in North Bay on Sunday afternoon.
File photo courtesy Kenneth Armstrong
To read our live blog from Wednesday's game, click here.
To view highlights from the game, click here.