The 2013-14 Ontario Hockey League regular season has officially come to a close.
The Soo Greyhounds were in Saginaw to face the Spirit in a game rescheduled from last week and, for good measure, the game even has some affect on the OHL standings as well.
Thanks to a 4-3 overtime win, the Spirit take the sixth seed in the OHL’s Western Conference, finishing one point ahead of the Owen Sound Attack. The game also played a role in the Greyhounds playoff opponent as the seventh-seeded Attack will face the second-seeded Greyhounds in the opening round of the playoffs, beginning Friday night in Sault Ste. Marie.
“We battled hard and we built a lead, (Brandon) Halverson was really strong in net,” said Greyhounds coach Sheldon Keefe. “Our guys fought hard all the way through. Our guys were pushing late. We almost won it in regulation. We out-chanced them pretty badly in the last five minutes. There were some positive signs.”
Halverson made 48 saves in the loss for the Greyhounds.
Offensively, overage forward Patrick Watling scored a pair of goals to lead the Greyhounds. Jorgen Karterud also scored in the loss.
Keefe told reporters following the loss that the last five games of the season have shown him something about the team.
“Looking at these last five games, we haven’t dressed our best lineup but we won the first four and came out today (Monday) with seven guys at home and came out with a point,” said Keefe. “I’m really proud of our guys in how they handled themselves through this. It’s a good sign of the character of our group. The fact that we’re developing a winning culture here where guys care. Our message today was that we’re not here to dictate who we play in the first round, we’re just prepared to play the game like any other.”
Eric Locke scored a pair of goals for Saginaw in the win while Justin Kea potted the game-winner 3:36 into overtime. Cody Payne also scored for the Spirit.
Saginaw goaltender Jake Patterson stopped 31 shots.
For the Greyhounds, the Saginaw win means they will face Owen Sound in the first round of the playoffs, beginning Friday night in Sault Ste. Marie.
“They’re a young, rebuilding club with very good leadership and veteran players that have made a big impact for them,” said Keefe of the Attack. “They’ve beaten all the best teams in the league and played everyone close. They’re going to present some challenges for us.”
“Both goalies have played really well for them,” said Keefe. “They’re a team we really don’t know all that well given that we’ve only played them twice. We’ve done some work on them but it was a little bit challenging on two different opponents. Now for the next few days, we can zero in a lot more on Owen Sound and get prepared to play.”
Game one begins at 7:07 p.m. on Friday at the Essar Centre.
The full series schedule is as follows:
- Game 1 – Mar. 21 in Sault Ste. Marie
- Game 2 – Mar. 22 in Sault Ste. Marie
- Game 3 – Mar. 24 in Owen Sound
- Game 4 – Mar. 26 in Owen Sound
- Game 5 – Mar. 28 in Sault Ste. Marie
- Game 6 – Mar. 30 in Owen Sound
- Game 7 – Apr. 1 in Sault Ste. Marie
Games five through seven only if necessary