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Greyhounds face must-win situation following game three loss

A disappointing finish leaves the Soo Greyhounds trailing their second round playoff series with the Saginaw Spirit

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They’ve hit must-win territory.

Returning home with their series tied at one, five unanswered goals left the Soo Greyhounds falling behind thanks to a 7-2 loss in game three against the Saginaw Spirit at the GFL Memorial Gardens to give the Spirit a 2-1 series lead in their Ontario Hockey League Western Conference semifinal set.

For Greyhounds coach John Dean, the game was one in which the start was strong, but things went downhill as the game played out.

“We didn’t have the same pop and energy that we usually have overall,” Dean said. “It’s not for lack of care or lack of effort. Our guys played physical. They played hard from puck drop to the final whistle, but I’ve seen our team play with more energy, with a little more liveliness.”

The start to the game was something the Greyhounds coach was pleased with.

“We had a real good start,” Dean said. “We want to pounce on it with the crowd being so electric and packing the house. Our guys really want to perform for the fans. I loved our first 10 or 12 minutes, but we have to capitalize on our opportunities. If we score one there, the game is probably a different story and we build off of it, but we can’t find a way to put the puck in the net and it ends up being a tough night for us.”

“The first 10 or 12 minutes, we were dominant,” Allard added. “It was a great start and then it kind of went downhill.”

Dean called a goal 13 seconds into the second period and a goal 25 seconds after the Greyhounds tied the game at two in the second period as important points in the game for the Spirit.

“A turnover to go back the other way is tough to swallow at the beginning of a period,” Dean said. “The big back-breaker was, we make it 2-2 and the place is absolutely electric, we turn over a couple pucks at the blue, miss an assignment…it ends up in the back of our net.”

“It was deflating after we tied it up and they get that goal,” Allard said.

Asked about the play of goaltender Charlie Schenkel, Dean spoke of the Greyhounds giving the Spirit too much in the game.

“We gave up way too much,” Dean said. “The pucks that Charlie did have to save were off things like turnovers at our own blueline, missing assignments on the way back. It’s tough to pin that on Charlie.”

“When he’s on, he can completely shut a door,” Dean said of Schenkel, who stopped 18 shots in the loss. “If he lets in one goal, we assess his play as needing improvement. That’s the way he’s going to look at it and that’s the way we look at it. I’m pretty happy with his compete over the course of the night.”

Dean added that a penalty shot save by Spirit goaltender Nolan Lalonde on Greyhounds forward Justin Cloutier midway through the second period with the Spirit up by a goal wasn’t necessarily a turning point but agreed it “took some wind out of our sails.”

“Obviously it’s going to excite the other team if you don’t score, but Clouter’s move was fantastic,” Dean said. “Lalonde makes a nice save and obviously their bench gets a little jump from that and our bench, it takes some wind out of the sails. That should not be a tuning point for us. There should be no momentum switches. We should be chomping at the bit. We were playing a good hockey game at that point.”

With the Spirit holding a 2-1 series lead, Dean said the important message going into game four is to “just keep doing what we’re doing.”

“We took a little bit of a chunk out of them today,” Dean added. “I really liked our pace of play for the most part. There’s a formula for this team here that we’ve found success with. As we got frustrated, we got away from that formula. (Tuesday) is just about showing the guys what works and remind them of that and where we find our success.”

Allard said he agreed with the sentiment that the fourth game is a must-win for the Greyhounds.

Despite assurances from the team prior to the game, Spirit head coach Chris Lazary was not made available to speak to the media following the game.

Saginaw opened the scoring as Jorian Donovan took a pass in the slot from Rodwin Dionicio and beat Greyhounds starter Charlie Schenkel with a shot from the high slot through a screen by Matyas Sapovaliv at 13:47 of the opening period.

The Spirit took a 2-0 lead off the opening faceoff in the second period as the visitors won the opening draw and Owen Beck sent Alex Christopoulos in alone. The overage forward beat Schenkel with a deke to the glove side 13 seconds into the frame.

The Greyhounds pulled to within one at 7:34 as Gavin Hayes took a pass in close from Arttu Karki below the goalline and beat Saginaw starter Nolan Lalonde after Karki sidestepped Christopoulos in the right faceoff circle.

The home side tied the game at two as Jordan D’Intino beat Lalonde with a shot from the right circle high stick side after Frasca grabbed a turnover by Hunter Haight near the Saginaw blueline at 9:24.

Saginaw made it a 3-2 game 25 seconds later as Zayne Parekh hit Calem Mangone in the right circle with a cross-ice pass and the Sault product beat Schenkel to give the Spirit the lead back.

In the third period, on the next shift after a hit by Brady Martin on Parekh was initially called a major penalty before a review overturned the call, Dionicio got the puck near the top of the left circle on a pass from Josh Bloom. Dionicio took a shot from the faceoff circle that deflected off Schenkel stick side at 4:21.

Saginaw took a 5-2 lead at 14:26 as Calem Mangone got the puck in the right corner and beat Schenkel with a sharp-angle shot.

Braden Hache added an empty net goal at 16:57 and Sebastien Gervais capped off the scoring with a power play goal with 1:14 to go as he beat Schenkel with a shot from the right faceoff circle.

In addition to the two-goal night for Mangone, Donovan and Dionicio had a goal and an assist each while Josh Bloom and Owen Beck assisted on a pair of goals each for the Spirit.

Lalonde made 21 saves in the victory.

Game four is Wednesday night in Sault Ste. Marie before the series shifts to Saginaw for game five on Friday night.

On the injury front, Dean said “there’s a chance” that overage forward Jack Beck plays in game four for the Greyhounds.

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Brad Coccimiglio

About the Author: Brad Coccimiglio

A graduate of Loyalist College’s Sports Journalism program, Brad Coccimiglio’s work has appeared in The Hockey News as well as online at in addition to regular freelance work with SooToday before joining the team full time.
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