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Exhibition importance is more than scores for Greyhounds

Sunday was a busy day for the Soo Greyhounds. On top of a win over the Saginaw Spirit at the Essar Centre, high-scoring forward Zach Senyshyn had surgery and the team trimmed its roster by one player

The Soo Greyhounds improved to 2-0 in Ontario Hockey League exhibition action on Sunday but it’s more about the process than it is about the scores for the team after the opening weekend of games.

The Greyhounds won the back end of a home-and-home weekend series with the Saginaw Spirit on Sunday at the Essar Centre. Thanks to three goals in the third period, the Greyhounds skated to a 6-4 victory.

For Greyhounds Coach Drew Bannister the wins are nice but the games have added importance in other ways.

“It’s nice to win,” Bannister said. “The most important thing is to get guys in key situations and get young players an opportunity to play as much as possible and see how they play. Over the last two games, all of our young players have played really well.”

Bannister was pleased with the play of free agent goaltender Matthew Villalta, who made 31 saves for the Greyhounds as he battles Dougie Newhouse for the Greyhounds second goaltending spot with veteran Joseph Raaymakers.

“He made some really good saves,” Bannister said. “For both of our goalies (Villalta and Newhouse in Saturday’s game), they’ve played well. There have been some goals in around the crease that I would like to see cleaned up (rebound control). But our forwards and our defencemen have to do a better job boxing out and a better job on sticks too.”

Blake Speers scored a pair of goals while Tim Gettinger had a goal and an assist to pace the Greyhounds offensively. Gettinger’s power play goal at 14:03 of the third period was the game-winner.

Second-year forwards Morgan Frost and Boris Katchouk and sophomore defenceman Mac Hollowell assisted on two goals each for the Greyhounds.

Liam Hawel, Barrett Hayton and Jack Kopacka had the other goals for the Greyhounds.

Bannister has credited the play of import forward Otto Makinen and his adjustment coming over to North America.

“The thing we heard about Otto was his consistency and over the last two games he’s been consistent on every shift,” Bannister said. “I really like the way he works and he’s very smart. He picks up the game. Offensively he creates but defensively he’s very responsible.”

Veteran forward Zach Senyshyn is expected to be out somewhere in the neighbourhood of three weeks after surgery on Sunday (appendicitis). Senyshyn was set to leave this week for the Boston Bruins training camp. Greyhounds General Manager Kyle Raftis said that the Bruins surgeon is going to be in touch with Senyshyn’s surgeon but the third-year forward will likely miss much, if not all of the Bruins camp due to the surgery.

Raftis also said following Sunday’s game that defenceman Holden Wale has been reassigned by the team. The 16-year-old is expected to join Cambridge of the Greater Ontario Jr. B League.

Mitchell Stephens had a goal and two assists to lead the Spirit offensively. Tye Felhaber and Hayden Hodgson had a goal and an assist each while Matthew Kreis also scored.

Cameron Lamour got the start in goal for the Spirit, stopping 13 of 14 shots. Brendan Bonello played the second half of the game, stopping eight of 12 shots.

“We’re a work in progress,” Saginaw Coach Spencer Carbery said of the opening weekend of game action. “There are a lot of things to clean up. It’s a new group for me and the entire coaching staff. There’s a lot of work to be done with this team.”

For the Greyhounds, the team enjoys a day off on Monday before getting back to practices on Tuesday. Next game action will see the team play a home-and-home series with the Sudbury Wolves next weekend beginning Friday night in Sudbury before wrapping up Sunday afternoon at the Essar Centre.

In other exhibition action around the OHL on Sunday, Nathan Dunkley’s goal at 3:43 of the third period was the game-winner as the Kingston Frontenacs beat the Ottawa 67’s 4-3. Warren Foegele had a goal and an assist while Linus Nyman assisted on two goals for Kingston. Nathan Billitier and Zack Dorval had the other Frontenacs goals. Austen Keating, Drake Rymsha and Sasha Chmelevski scored for Ottawa. Defenceman Ben Fanjoy assisted on a pair of 67’s goals.

In Kitchener, Connor Hall. Dylan DiPerna and Cedric Schiemenz had a goal and an assist each as the Kitchener Rangers beat the Mississauga Steelheads 5-1. Jake Henderson and Riley Damiani also scored for Kitchener. Ryan MacLeod had the lone goal for Mississauga.

In Owen Sound, Aidan Dudas had the shootout winner as the Owen Sound Attack beat the Barrie Colts 5-4. Markus Phillips had a goal and an assist while Zachary Roberts assisted on two goals for the Attack. Jacob Friend, Kevin Hancock and Petrus Palmu also scored for Owen Sound. Kyle Heitzner scored a pair of goals for Barrie. Tom Hedberg and Cameron Lizotte also scored for the Colts while Lucas Chiodo picked up a pair of assists.

In Sudbury, Owen Lane’s goal at 16:39 of the third period was the game-winner as the Sudbury Wolves beat the North Bay Battalion 3-2. Kyle Capobianco and Liam Dunda had a goal and an assist each for Sudbury. North Bay goaltender Mat Woroniuk made 40 saves. Adam McMaster had a goal and an assist while Daniil Verity also scored for the Battalion.

In Peterborough. Eric Henderson scored three times while Mitchell Vande Sompel had two goals and two assists as the Oshawa Generals beat the Peterborough Petes 6-4. Antony Cirelli assisted on three goals for Oshawa. Renars Krastenberrs added a goal and an assist for Oshawa. Logan DeNoble scored twice while Matyas Svoboda and Matthew Timms had the other goals for Peterborough.

Sunday’s lone other exhibition game saw Windsor host Flint. The game was a 7:05 p.m. puck drop and not complete at the time of writing.