It was a meeting of two nationally-ranked teams and for the Soo Greyhounds, it went about as well as the team could have hoped for.
Leading 3-2 midway through the second period, the Greyhounds reeled off five unanswered goals to beat the Kitchener Rangers 8-2 in Ontario Hockey League action Friday night at the Essar Centre.
Heading into the contest, Greyhounds Coach Drew Bannister said the game “was going to be won or lost for us by limiting turnovers and minimizing time and space.”
“When you do that with the speed that we have that can create turnovers and our transition game, we were able to exploit them a little bit,” Bannister added.
The Greyhounds line of Joe Carroll, Tim Gettinger and Hayden Verbeek finished the night with a combined seven points. Carroll led the way with two goals, the first of his OHL career, and an assist while Gettinger added one of each. Verbeek assisted on a pair of goals.
“Verbeek probably played his best game in the last two weeks, Timmy Gettinger was great and for a young 16-year-old (Carroll) in some tough matchups against older guys, he played outstanding tonight,” Bannister said of the trio.
Boris Katchouk led the way offensively for the Greyhounds with two goals and two assists. Ryan Roth added two goals and an assist while Morgan Frost had a goal and three assists. Defenceman Conor Timmins assisted on three goals and Mac Hollowell added a pair of helpers for the Greyhounds.
Goaltender Matthew Villalta made 19 saves.
As the team improve to 19-3-2-0 and in top spot in the OHL’s West Division, Bannister has some heavy praise for his team Friday night.
“We’re playing very well but it starts with the way we play away from the puck,” Bannister said. “I haven’t seen our group in three years play as well away from the puck as I do now.”
Cole Carter and Kole Sherwood completed the scoring for the Rangers.
“We were out-skated, out-classed, out-chanced and I think it’s a humbling experience for our players,” said Rangers Coach Jay McKee. They made us look like a junior-B team tonight.”
It was a tough start for Rangers netminder Luke Richardson, who surrendered six goals on 20 shots in two periods of work before Chris McGonigle entered the game and stopped six of eight shots in the third period.
McKee would say that the change wasn’t due to Richardson’s play.
“It was at a point where we wanted to shake up the room a bit,” McKee said. “We were terrible in front of Richardson. We gave them too many high-quality chances.”
The Rangers, who entered the game seventh in the Canadian Hockey League rankings and in top spot in the OHL’s Midwest Division, fall to 15-8-2-0.
The Greyhounds will wrap up a three-game homestand on Saturday night against the Peterborough Petes. Puck drop at the Essar Centre is set for 7:07 p.m.
In other OHL action on Friday night, in Mississauga, Adam Ruzicka’s power play goal in the third period was the game-winner as the Sarnia Sting beat the Mississauga Steelheads 5-4. Jordan Ernst paced the Sting with a goal and three assists while Jordan Kyrou assisted on three goals. Sarnia goaltender Justin Fazio stopped 38 shots.
In St. Catharines, Philip Tomasino’s goal early in the third period lifted the Niagara IceDogs to a 3-2 win over the Ottawa 67’s. Kirill Maksimov chipped in with a goal and an assist while Akil Thomas had two assists for Niagara.
In Windsor, shootout goals by Aaron Luchuk and Jake Smith lifted the Windsor Spitfires to a 5-4 win over the Kingston Frontenacs. Logan Brown had a goal and two assists in regulation time for Windsor.
In Saginaw, Marcus Crawford and Kyle Bollers had two goals each as the Saginaw Spirit beat the Flint Firebirds 6-1. Spirit netminder Evan Cormier made 35 saves.
In Sudbury. Dylan Wells made 24 saves as the Peterborough Petes blanked the Sudbury Wolves 4-0. Pavel Gogolev scored a pair of goals for the Petes while Nikita Korostelev had a goal and an assist. Sudbury goaltender Mario Culina stopped 32 shots in his first start for the Wolves.
In Guelph, Cedric Ralph scored 55 seconds into overtime as the Guelph Storm beat the Barrie Colts 5-4. Isaac Ratcliffe had a goal and two assists for Guelph. Cam Hillis scored a pair of goals for the Storm.
In London, Evan Bouchard, Alex Formenton, and Cliff Pu had a goal and an assist each as the London Knights beat the Owen Sound Attack 5-3. Sam Miletic and Robert Thomas assisted on two goals each for the Knights.
In Oshawa, Will Bitten had a goal and four assists as the Hamilton Bulldogs beat the Oshawa Generals 6-5. Ben Gleason scored three goals for Hamilton while Brandon Saigeon assisted on three goals. Serron Noel and Renars Krastenbergs had two goals and an assist for Oshawa.