The Soo Greyhounds will look to take a step forward after opening their Western Conference semi-final series with the Erie Otters on Wednesday night at the Essar Centre.
After a five-game series win over the Owen Sound Attack in round one, the Greyhounds dropped a 3-1 decision to the Otters Wednesday night in the first game of their best-of-7 series.
“It felt like we played in a different league tonight than what we played in the first round,” said Greyhounds Coach Sheldon Keefe. “That’s what happens when you play a young, up-and-coming, rebuilding team like Owen Sound versus a team that has been building for this season for four years.”
The Greyhounds fell behind 1-0 early and couldn’t capitalize on their chances, including in the second period when they Greyhounds took the play to the Otters.
“The whole game, there’s wasn’t a whole lot of great chances for either team,” said Keefe. “We generated enough to have at least a goal coming out of that second period. We didn’t get it. To lose that period is tough. We felt like we played a really good period.”
On the other side, Otters coach Kris Knoblauch spoke highly of the Otters ability to limit the Greyhounds by skating with them.
“You give the Greyhounds room and space, they create a lot of opportunities,” said Knoblauch. “When we backed off, they had some good opportunities and that’s where Devin Williams played well. The Greyhounds skate well and if you’re not skating with them, you’re going to pay for it.”
“We like to pressure but we’re not going to put ourselves out of position by going behind the net,” Knoblauch also said. “Just like the Greyhounds do. When we’re set up behind the net, they don’t chase and we don’t do that either.”
Dylan Strome had a goal and an assist for the Otters in the win while Brendan Gaunce set up a pair of goals for Erie. Connor Brown and Michael Curtis also scored in the win while Devin Williams stopped 26 shots.
Knoblauch called opening a playoff series at home tough.
“It’s always a little difficult being the home team opening a series,” said Knoblauch. “You have the jitters and you’re expected to set the tone. When you come in as the underdogs, you don’t have to worry about that. It’s a road game. The first 10 minutes are usually difficult to play for the home team.”
Kyle Jenkins had the lone goal for the Greyhounds in the loss. Goaltender Matt Murray made 23 saves.
“We made mistakes,” said Keefe. “We didn’t have to defend a whole lot. A lot of the game was played in the neutral zone. Both teams were trying to get it figured out offensively.”
“To me, the difference in the game is the chances they had, they put them in the net while the chances we had, we didn’t,” said Keefe.
Keefe told reporters following the game that there was at least one positive from the loss.
“We can get a lot better and that’s the positive out of this,” said Keefe.
Game two in the series is set for 7:07 p.m. Friday night at the Essar Centre before the series shifts to Erie for games three and four.
Photos by Kenneth Armstrong for SooToday.com