The first exhibition game of the season was a good chance to learn for the Soo Greyhounds.
The Saginaw Spirit scored three unanswered goals in the third period to beat the Greyhounds 4-3 in Ontario Hockey League exhibition action at the Dow Event Center in Saginaw on Saturday night.
Damien Giroux scored the game-winner with 20 seconds to go in regulation time and give the Spirit the victory.
“There were some good things in spurts,” said Greyhounds Coach Drew Bannister. “We gave up a lead in the third period, but it was a good learning experience for us. Having guys in our lineup playing their first game in the league, we showed fairly well. I don’t think there was a lot of consistency in our game but there were times when we did some really good things.”
With 10 rookies in the lineup, Bannister called the game an opportunity for the young players to learn.
“I didn’t think we were very strong on our sticks tonight,” Bannister said. “It was kind of easy to strip us of pucks. On the last goal, we had possession of the puck twice where we should have had it out of our zone but because we weren’t strong on our sticks we didn’t get it out. That’s a learning experience.”
Despite surrendering a 3-1 lead in the final period, Bannister would say that he was pleased with the fact that the team managed to generate chances, something the team didn’t do as much in the opening 40 minutes.
“Probably the third period was our best period,” Bannister said. “We generated our most chances and shots.”.
Morgan Frost, Keeghan Howdeshell and Jack Kopacka, who comprised the Greyhounds top line in the game, completed the scoring for the Greyhounds. Howdeshell’s goal came shorthanded early in the second period.
Matthew Villalta got the start for the Greyhounds, stopping 30 shots in the contest. Bannister would say following the game that rookie Dougie Newhouse was expected to start the game but became ill late in the bus ride to Saginaw and couldn’t make the start. The team planned to monitor the situation and a decision will be made on Sunday as to who gets the start in the matinee game between the two clubs.
Sault product Nicholas Porco had a goal and an assist for the Spirit, as did Maxim Grondin. Cole Coskey also scored for Saginaw. Goaltender Evan Cormier made 20 saves.
Puck drop on Sunday at the Essar Centre is set for 4:07 p.m.
AROUND THE OHL
In other news around the OHL, the long weekend was a little more enjoyable for some local players.
Sault products Cole MacKay and Camaryn Baber each signed with their respective OHL clubs on Friday.
MacKay inked his standard player agreement with the Greyhounds while Baber signed with the Spirit. Each enjoyed solid camps with their respective OHL clubs.
At the OHL pre-season showcase in Buffalo, shootout goals by Luke Kutkevicius and Mathew MacDougall were the difference as the Windsor Spitfires beat the North Bay Battalion 4-3. MacDougall, Kirill Kozhevnikov and Aaron Luchuk scored in regulation time for Windsor. North Bay goaltender Julian Sime made 38 saves. Luke Burghardt scored a pair of goals for North Bay. Justin Brazeau had the other Battalion goal in regulation time.
Also in Buffalo, Jonathan Ang and Adam Timleck had two goals and an assist each as the Peterborough Petes doubled up the Kitchener Rangers 6-3. Zach Gallant and Christopher Paquette also scored for the Petes. Liam Peyton, Riley Damiani and Jonathan Yantsis scored for Kitchener.
The final game of the day in Buffalo saw the Erie Otters pick up a 4-3 win over the Flint Firebirds. A goal by Chad Yetman midway through the third period held up as the game-winner. Yetman finished the day with a goal and two assists. Patrick Fellows scored a pair of goals while Carson Edwardson also scored for the Otters. Nicholas Caamano had a goal and an assist for Flint. Hakon Nilsen and Luke Kirwan also scored for Flint.
In Mississauga, Cam Hillis had the shootout winner as the Guelph Storm beat the Mississauga Steelheads 4-3. Ryan Merkley, Barret Kirwin and Matt Hotchkiss scored in regulation time for the Storm while Garrett McFadden assisted on a pair of Guelph goals. Owen Tippett scored a pair of goals for Mississauga while Ryan McLeod chipped in with a goal and an assist. Austin Osmanski assisted on two Steelheads goals.
In Sarnia, Drake Rymsha had a goal and two assists to pace the Sarnia Sting to a 6-3 win over the London Knights. Hugo Leufvenius and Connor Schlichting chipped in with a goal and an assist each for Sarnia. Jordan Kyrou, Adam Ruzicka and Jordan Ernst also scored for the Sting. Evan Bouchard scored a pair of goals for London while Jacob Golden assisted on two goals. Josh Nelson had the other goal for the Knights.