Coaches at all levels of hockey talk about how special teams can be the difference in a game.
The Soo Greyhounds witnessed that first-hand on Monday afternoon against the North Bay Battalion.
The Battalion scored five times on six man advantages in a 7-5 Ontario Hockey League victory at the North Bay Memorial Gardens
“Obviously five power play goals against is unacceptable,” said Greyhounds coach John Dean. “We need guys to step up. We need guys to block shots, we need guys to make saves and tonight it didn’t happen on the penalty kill.”
“Special teams are where games are won and lost and tonight wasn’t our night on the penalty kill,” added Greyhounds forward Jaden Peca. “We want to be better (on the penalty kill) and capitalize on the power play.”
The five power play goals were a new team record for the Battalion, who use five forwards on their top power play unit.
“It was an interesting game, that’s for sure,” Battalion coach Stan Butler told BayToday. “There were a lot of goals and a lot of excitement for the fans. “We made a decision about a week ago, I said to [assistant coach] Scott Wray that we should go with five forwards on the first power play unit and so far that’s working our way.”
The two teams traded goals throughout much of the opening 40 minutes with the Battalion taking a 4-3 lead into the third.
After Tye Kartye tied the game on a turnover early in the frame for the Greyhounds, Alex Johnston took a feed from Cole MacKay and beat Battalion goaltender Joe Vrbetic to give the visitors their first lead of the day.
The lead lasted just under five minutes as Matthew Struthers scored on the power play to tie the game and Kyle Jackson scored the game winner 3:37 later.
“I was really upset about the non-icing call on the game-winner,” Dean said. “The puck was shot from behind their line in the air. We had one guy reaching to try to touch it but couldn’t get ahold of it and two defencemen way in front on the icing and it gets waved off.
“I’m not sure why it got waved off,” Dean added. “We want a better game but to have a tough night like that on the penalty kill and for our guys to battle back and then have the referees decide a call like that is tough for us.”
Dean said he didn’t get an explanation on the decision.
Struthers finished the day with three goals and two assists and has nine points in his last three games after being held to one assist through the first four games of the season.
“I wanted to get out to a better start (this season) but I’ve stuck with it,” Struthers told North Bay’s YourTV following the game. “I’m still trying to work and if you have a work ethic, good things are going to happen.”
Brad Chenier and Brandon Coe had a goal and an assist each for the Battalion while Paul Christopoulos also scored.
Mitchell Russell assisted on two goals for North Bay.
Vrbetic made 28 saves.
Jaromir Pytlik had a pair of goals for the Greyhounds. Jaden Peca had the other Sault goal while defenceman Ryan O’Rourke assisted on a pair of goals.
Christian Propp made 26 saves for the Greyhounds, who fall to 5-4-0-0 with the loss.
The win improves North Bay’s record to 3-6-0-0.
The Greyhounds return to action on Wednesday night in the opening game of a three-game homestand against the Saginaw Spirit. Puck drop at the GFL Memorial Gardens is set for 7:07 p.m.\
In other action around the OHL on Monday, in Hamilton, Jan Jenik and Arthur Kaliyev had two goals and two assists each as the Hamilton Bulldogs beat the Barrie Colts 7-5. Logan Morrison also had four points for Hamilton with a goal and three assists. Tyson Foerster had two goals and an assist for Barrie.
In Kitchener, Liam Hawel scored three times as the Kitchener Rangers beat the Sudbury Wolves 7-3. Ville Ottavainen had a goal and three assists for the Rangers. Kitchener goaltender Jacob Ingham made 39 saves.
In Ottawa, Kevin Bahl scored at 2:22 of overtime to give the Ottawa 67’s an 8-7 win over the Kingston Frontenacs. Marco Rossi and Graeme Clarke had two goals and an assist each while Austen Keating had a goal and three assists for Ottawa. Nick Wong scored twice for Kingston.