HAMILTON – Riding the emotional high of Friday’s shootout win over the Oshawa Generals, the Soo Greyhounds struggled to build on it less than 24 hours later.
A 3-1 deficit early was too much to overcome as the Greyhounds dropped a 5-2 Ontario Hockey League decision to the Hamilton Bulldogs on Saturday at the FirstOntario Centre in Hamilton.
“We looked pretty flat,” said Greyhounds coach John Dean. “In the first period, we come out with a big goal and then we have a little bit of miscommunication behind the net for them to tie it up. I think we thought it was going to be an easy night for whatever reason.
“They come out with two more quick ones and the next thing you know, we’re down 3-1,” Dean added.
The Greyhounds bench boss spoke of liking the Greyhounds response in the second period, but it wasn’t perfect and the struggles continued into the third period.
“As much as I thought we controlled the period, I still thought we were a little bit on the flatter side and in the third period we looked just exhausted,” Dean said. “There wasn’t a lot of push back in the third, which is tough for such an important game. The guys looked pretty beat up.”
For the Bulldogs, the game produced a lot of positives.
“We were tremendous,” said Hamilton coach Vince Laise. “We had a game plan, we stuck to is and we got better as the game went on.”
The Bulldogs ability to limit the quality of the scoring chances the Greyhounds had in the game was important as well.
“We respect the amount of talent there is over there from an offensive standpoint,” Laise said. “We had to have a game plan to stop that and we did.”
Riding the emotion of Friday’s win over Oshawa, Saturday’s game was a tough result for the Greyhounds.
“It’s tough,” Dean said. “You win this game and you’re right back in the mix. You feel good about yourself. You hope the guys dig deep even though they’re tired.”
Jan Mysak paced the Bulldogs offensively with three goals, which included a pair of tallies in the opening period and assisted on another goal.
“He just keeps getting better,” Laise said. “With the size of the rink, he had to get adjusted and to the time and space and obviously all of the new systems we play on North American ice.
“It’s a completely different game (than he was used to),” Laise added, “but we’re really lucky to have him.”
Arthur Kaliyev chipped in with a goal and two assists. Bradey Johnson had the other goal for the Bulldogs.
Zachary Roy got the start for the Bulldogs and stopped 35 shots.
Cullen McLean and Tye Kartye scored for the Greyhounds.
Nick Malik made 21 saves for the Greyhounds.
With the loss, the Greyhounds record falls to 25-28-2-0 as the team heads into an off day on Sunday before facing the Guelph Storm on Monday afternoon.
Dean said the day off will be a good thing for the Greyhounds.
“Some guys are going to see some family, which is always nice and get rejuvenated and recharge the battery and then get back at it,” Dean said.
The team entered action on Saturday one point behind the Erie Otters for the eighth and final playoff spot in the OHL’s Western Conference but a shootout win over the Oshawa Generals on Friday moved Erie three points ahead of the Greyhounds.
Overage goaltender Bailey Brkin was out of the lineup for the Greyhounds on Saturday night after leaving Friday’s game with a lower-body injury.
Dean said Brkin remains day-to-day and his status for Monday’s game wasn’t clear.
Hamilton, battling for playoff positioning in the Eastern Conference, improve to 23-24-6-1.
In other action on Saturday night in the OHL, in Flint, Dennis Busby’s shootout goal was the difference as the Flint Firebirds beat the Guelph Storm 4-3. Jack Phibbs had two goals and an assist for the Firebirds. Cam Hillis scored twice for the Storm
In Kingston, Luke Evangelista had two goals and an assist as the London Knights beat the Kingston Frontenacs 7-5. Liam Foudy and Markus Phillips chipped in with a goal and an assist each.
In Erie, shootout goals by Jamie Drysdale and Maxim Golod were the difference as the Erie Otters beat the Oshawa Generals 6-5. Chad Yetman scored twice in regulation time for the Otters. Brett Harrison scored twice for Oshawa.
In Saginaw, a six-goal outburst in the second period helped the Saginaw Spirit to an 8-2 win over the Kitchener Rangers. Blade Jenkins scored twice for the Spirit.
In Owen Sound, Nick Robertson scored twice as the Peterborough Petes beat the Owen Sound Attack 5-3. Petes goaltender Hunter Jones made 35 saves.
In Barrie, Joe Vrbetic made 41 saves as the North Bay Battalion blanked the Barrie Colts 4-0.