As quick as the lead was built, it was gone.
After leading by three midway through the second period, the Soo Greyhounds surrendered five unanswered goals in a 5-3 Ontario Hockey League loss against the Erie Otters.
Overage forward Cole MacKay called the loss embarrassing.
“This one hurts really bad,” MacKay said. “I’m pretty embarrassed by the showing we put on in the last half of the game. It’s unacceptable.”
“This one stings for sure,” added coach John Dean. “Especially after a really good first period.”
MacKay said it was “fair to say” that the Greyhounds got complacent after pulling ahead.
“We let that creep into our game a little bit,” MacKay said. “We were making uncharacteristic mistakes that they capitalized on. When they got the momentum, we didn’t do a good job at all of getting it back.”
Dean said puck management, specifically in the third period, was an issue.
“We turn over the puck in two terrible spots and we begin to unravel,” Dean said.
“We had a lot of turnovers at both bluelines tonight,” MacKay said, adding that “little things around the ice that we’re usually dialed in on, we weren’t down the stretch.”
Greyhounds captain Ryan O’Rourke said the team “showed a lot of good things” early in the game.
“In the second, we got away from that and in the third, we didn’t do a good job at all on anything,” O’Rourke added.
The Greyhounds opened the scoring just over four minutes into the contest when Rory Kerins jumped on a rebound in close after Otters goaltender Nolan Lalonde made the initial save on the play.
With 4:39 to go in the period, Tanner Dickinson extended the lead.
The veteran forward potted a rebound after Justin Cloutier’s initial shot on the play was stopped.
Midway through the second period, the Greyhounds went up 3-0 as overage forward Cole MacKay went to the net and redirected a pass from Kerins on the left wing past Lalonde.
Erie got on the board at 12:22 of the second period when Noah Sedore took a shot from the top of the left faceoff circle and beat Greyhounds starter Charlie Schenkel stick side through traffic on the power play to make it 3-1.
The Otters pulled to within one at 3:31 of the third when Brendan Hoffmann won a battle with a Greyhounds player while skating in on the Sault goal and beat Schenkel.
Erie tied the game at 7:14 of the third when Connor Lockhart took a turnover in the neutral zone, skated down the right wing and beat Schenkel low glove side for the right faceoff circle.
The Otters took the lead for the first time in the game when Brendan Sellan grabbed a rebound off the end boards and sent the puck over to Hoffman to the left of the slot who beat Schenkel at 11:45.
Erie extended the lead to 5-3 when Elias Cohen took a pass from Brett Bressette and proceeded to slide a backhand 5-hole on Schenkel on a shorthanded breakaway at 13:36.
Kerins and MacKay finished the night with a goal and an assist each for the Greyhounds.
Kerins left the game with an injury late in the third period after blocking a shot by Daniel D’Amato with just under two minutes to go in the contest.
Schenkel made 22 saves in the loss.
Lalonde stopped 26 shots for the Otters.
In addition to his two-goal performance, Hoffmann also assisted on a goal for Erie while Spencer Sova had a pair of assists.
In an interview aired on the Otters radio broadcast following the game, Hoffmann said the loss on Sunday afternoon was a motivating factor.
“It was a long bus ride back from Sault Ste. Marie,” Hoffmann said. “We definitely let it motivate us this week at practice. We were really good in practice this week. Tonight it showed in the third period when we really brought the effort that we did.”
The Greyhounds road trip continues on Friday night at the Kitchener Memorial Auditorium against the Kitchener Rangers.
“We can’t feel sorry for ourselves, that’s for sure,” Dean said of the turnaround prior to the game in Kitchener.
The trip concludes on Sunday afternoon in Sarnia against the Sting.