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Fast pace, special teams success prove critical for Greyhounds (video, 10 photos)

The Greyhounds scored three times on the power play and added a shorthanded goal against the Owen Sound Attack

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After struggling at home in a pair of losses to the Windsor Spitfires one week ago, which included a 10-4 loss last Sunday, the Soo Greyhounds used a quick start to recover on Saturday night at the GFL Memorial Gardens.

A 2-0 lead through 20 minutes in an opening period that saw them outshoot their opponent 16-5 helped the Greyhounds to a 5-2 win over the Owen Sound Attack in Ontario Hockey League action.

“That was great,” Greyhounds coach John Dean said of the start.

“When you lose 10-4 in a really important game and your guys come and respond like that in the first period, it says a lot about the character of your team,” Dean also said.

Greyhounds forward Rory Kerins said the team “had something to prove coming into this game.”

“It was a big start, and this weekend is a big weekend for us,” Kerins added. “We want to prove to the league and prove to ourselves ultimately that we’re the team we think we are.”

The pace presented by the Greyhounds early on was something the Attack struggled with early.

“We got dominated in the first period by a very good team,” Owen Sound coach Greg Walters said, adding that the Greyhounds pace of play gave the team trouble early on.

“We haven’t seen a pace like this,” Walters said. “Their D are pinching, and you can’t really go up the walls. You have to make plays under pressure and our guys struggled with that.”

A three-goal night on the power play, which included goals on both ends of a double minor, also played a key role in the victory for the Greyhounds.

The double minor came when Attack defenceman Mark Woolley was hit by Greyhounds forward Tye Kartye along the end boards. After getting up, Woolley and Kartye came together again and fought. Kartye got a fighting major while Woolley was given an instigator penalty and cross checking minor in addition to his fighting major on the play.

“Mark Woolley wants to protect his teammates, but it was the wrong time and the wrong place,” Walters said of the double minor. “We had just made it 3-2 and started to figure out their pace of the game and he takes a four-minute penalty and right there, the game is kind of over.”

“That’s very important for us that if teams want to play physical, we have to make sure we do really well on the power play,” Dean said.

Kerins said the double minor was a crucial opportunity for the Greyhounds to take advantage of.

“That’s a couple games this year that we’ve been able to take advantage of four-minute penalties,” Kerins said. “You want to get two on those ones for sure. When you have that much time, it can really change a game.”

Dean added that special teams played a role in the game for the Greyhounds.

“Special teams were huge,” Dean said. “The PK has been really strong over the last 10 to 12 games and the PP has been strong all year. It allows us to play with a lot of freedom five-on-five.”

The Greyhounds opened the scoring with a shorthanded marker in the opening period as Tanner Dickinson took a pass in the slot from Cole MacKay along the boards and beat Owen Sound starter Nick Chenard at 8:33.

The Greyhounds went up by a pair with just over five minutes to go in the period when defenceman Ryan O’Rourke beat Chenard high stick side through traffic on the power play.

Owen Sound got on the board in the second period when Logan LeSage beat Tucker Tynan from the right faceoff circle after having his initial shot blocked on the play at 11:31.

The Greyhounds made it 3-1 on the next shift when overage defenceman Robert Calisti took a pass in the left circle from Dickinson and beat Chenard glove side at 12:05.

Sault native Nick Porco cut the Greyhounds lead back down to one at 16:23 when he took a pass in the slot from Cedrick Guindon below the goal line and beat Tynan.

With six seconds to go in the second period and the Greyhounds on the power play, Kerins made it 4-2 when he beat Chenard with a shot from the right circle high glove side.

The Greyhounds took a 5-2 lead early in the third when Keegan McMullen knocked in a rebound on the power play after Calisti’s initial shot from the right circle was stopped by Chenard.

O'Rourke and Dickinson finished the night with three points each, picking up a pair of assists each in addition to their goals.

Asked about the veterans playing a key role in the win, Dean called O’Rourke’s game “the best since he’s been back.”

“He made a pretty big statement here tonight and it’s exciting to see how that’s going to evolve on the back end with the depth we added in a pretty big piece in Jack (Thompson),” Dean added.

Thompson also had a pair of assists for the Greyhounds.

Calisti had a goal and an assist for the Sault.

Tynan stopped 13 of the 15 shots he faced for the Greyhounds.

The 15 shots by the Attack were the fewest the Greyhounds have given up this season.

Chenard stopped 33 shots for the Attack.

The win improves the Greyhounds record to 19-12-2-0 and the team extends its lead atop the OHL’s West Division to four points over the idle Windsor Spitfires. Windsor was scheduled to face the Saginaw Spirit on Saturday, but the game was postponed, with the Spirit instead facing the Flint Firebirds.

Battling for positioning in the OHL’s Western Conference, the Attack fall to 13-12-1-2 and sit one point ahead of the Kitchener Rangers for sixth in the conference and two points ahead of the Sarnia Sting and Saginaw, who are tied for eighth with 27 points each.

The two teams return to action on Sunday afternoon in a 2:07 p.m. start at the GFL Memorial Gardens.