Confidence can come and go quickly in junior hockey and for the Soo Greyhounds, it’s something they’re struggling with.
The team saw its losing streak extended to five games on Saturday night in a 5-2 Ontario Hockey League loss to the Sudbury Wolves at Sudbury Arena.
In that stretch, the team has scored just 10 goals.
For a team that was among the top scoring teams in the league, the recent struggles offensively have made things difficult as the team looks to stay in the playoff race.
“We’ve got to find a way to score,” said Greyhounds coach John Dean following Saturday’s loss. “It seems like we’ve lost our swagger a little bit and our ability to get pucks to the net.”
“When you go four or five games only scoring one or two goals a game, it’s human nature that your confidence goes down,” Dean said. “You can see guys clutching their sticks a little bit. All it takes is one game to break out and for guys to remember who they are again.”
Greyhounds forward Zack Trott echoed the comments of his coach,
“We need to capitalize on our chances and not take 40 minutes to start playing,” said Trott, who assisted both Sault goals in the loss.
“We’re not capitalizing on our chances right now, we’re gripping the stick a little too tight,” Trott also said.
Not starting well has also been an issue for the team, who fell behind in the opening period against the Wolves and trailed 4-0 before getting on the board with a pair of goals in the third period.
“We need to get off to better starts,” Dean said. “Sometimes you forget how hard it is to win at this level and how intense you have to be right from the drop of the puck.”
Rookie goaltender Nick Malik got the start Saturday and played well in his third OHL start, making 38 saves for the Greyhounds.
“He was fantastic,” Dean said. “There were way too many second chances that he had to save.”
Marc Boudreau and Tye Kartye scored for the Greyhounds while Billy Constantinou also had two assists.
Quinton Byfield scored three times for the Wolves with linemate David Levin assist on all three markers.
Brad Chenier added a goal and an assist while Matej Pekar had the other Sudbury goal.
Wolves goaltender Mitchell Weeks made 24 saves.
For the Greyhounds, a short turnaround heading into action on Sunday afternoon is a good thing.
“We have to make up for tonight and we should be hungry to prove ourselves and exactly what kind of team we are and make sure that we come out with a competitive edge that shows we weren’t happy with tonight’s performance,” Dean said.
The loss drops the Greyhounds record to 20-23-2-0 as the team wraps up weekend action in North Bay on Sunday against the Battalion.
With 42 points, the Greyhounds remain six points behind the Erie Otters for the final playoff spot in the Western Conference. The Otters were in action on Saturday, dropping a 5-3 decision to the Owen Sound Attack.
The Guelph Storm hold seventh in the conference with 49 points but have lost nine straight games after losing to Flint on Saturday night.
Sudbury improves to 24-21-1-0 and moves six points ahead of the Mississauga Steelheads atop the OHL’s Central Division.
In other action around the OHL on Saturday night, in Ottawa, Joseph Garreffa had a goal and three assists as the Ottawa 67’s beat the Niagara IceDogs 6-0. Noel Hoefenmayer scored a pair of goals for Ottawa. 67’s goaltender Will Cranley made 27 saves for the shutout. Niagara goaltender Christian Sbaraglia made 49 saves.
In Oshawa, Ty Tullio had two goals and two assists as the Oshawa Generals beat the Kingston Frontenacs 7-4. Philip Tomasino had a goal and three assists for the Generals. Shane Wright had two goals and an assist for Kingston.
In Erie, Sergey Popov had two goals and an assist as the Owen Sound Attack beat the Erie Otters 5-3. Chad Yetman had a pair of goals for Erie.
In Flint, Ty Dellandrea had two goals and an assist as the Flint Firebirds beat the Guelph Storm 4-1.
In Barrie, Aidan Brown scored 64 seconds into overtime as the Barrie Colts beat the Hamilton Bulldogs 8-7. Ethan Cardwell scored four times for the Colts. Jan Mysak and Ryan Winterton had two goals each for Hamilton.