A strong penalty kill turned out to be the difference.
The Soo Greyhounds killed off a pair of third period double minors, which led to a 4-3 Ontario Hockey League victory over the Sudbury Wolves Wednesday night at the Essar Centre.
Overage forward Hayden Verbeek was hit with a pair of high sticking penalties in the final period that led to eight minutes of power play time for the Wolves, a stretch the visitors couldn’t capitalize on.
Moments after the second double minor ended, Greyhounds captain Tim Gettinger forced a neutral zone turnover, beat Sudbury defenceman Zack Malik down the right wing and tucked the puck past goaltender Jake McGrath for the game-winning goal.
“Our penalty kill was outstanding,” said Greyhounds Coach Drew Bannister. “Our penalty kill has been getting better and we’re starting to get a little bit of swagger with our PK which helps. Offensively on the PK we had been great, but we had some issues keeping the puck out of our net, but we’ve had a little more commitment to playing on the defensive side of the puck.”
Greyhounds forward Boris Katchouk, who finished the night with a pair of goals, also commended the Greyhounds penalty kill.
“Our PK was unbelievable tonight,” Katchouk said, adding that it “created a lot of momentum” in the third period when the team killed off a pair of double minors to overage forward Hayden Verbeek.
Wolves Coach Cory Stillman called the lack of production on the power plays “the difference in the hockey game.”
“Our power play didn’t come up big,” Stillman added. “You put the guys on the ice that want to score and are expected to score and when they don’t, it can cost you a hockey game.”
It wasn’t the ideal start for the Greyhounds in the game, but the team progressed throughout the game.
“It took us a while to get going,” Bannister said. “In the second period we were better, and we were fine in the third.”
Rasmus Sandin had the other goal for the Greyhounds, who improve to 18-3-2-0, while goaltender Matthew Villalta stopped 19 shots.
“Our team is maturing and finding ways to win, regardless of what happens in the game,” Bannister said of the Greyhounds, who trailed on three occasions in the game.
The Greyhounds remain one point behind the Sarnia Sting for top spot in the OHL’s West Division as the Sting also won on Wednesday night. The Greyhounds hold a game in hand on the division leader.
Dawson Baker, Blake Murray and Anthony Tabak scored for the Wolves, who fall to 7-15-4-0 with the loss.
Sudbury netminder Jake McGrath stopped 30 shots.
“Jake played well tonight and he’s held us in probably every game we’ve played (the Greyhounds),” Stillman said.
The Wolves coach said he hasn’t decided when Sault product Mario Culina will get his first start with the team after joining the organization earlier this week.
The Greyhounds, winners of nine-straight games, will return to action on Friday night at home against the Kitchener Rangers in a 7:07 p.m. start at the Essar Centre.
In other action around the OHL on Wednesday night, in Flint, Blade Jenkins had two goals and an assist to lead the Saginaw Spirit to a 4-1 win over the Flint Firebirds. Damien Giroux added a goal and an assist for the Spirit while Keaton Middleton assisted on a pair of goals.
In Owen Sound, Nick Suzuki and Aidan Dudas scored shootout goals as the Owen Sound Attack beat the Niagara IceDogs 3-2. Dudas had a pair of goals for the Attack in regulation time.
In Sarnia, Hugo Leufvenius scored three times as the Sarnia Sting beat the London Knights 4-1. Sean Josling added a goal and an assist while goaltender Justin Fazio stopped 31 shots.