Things will get a little more important for the Soo Greyhounds on Saturday night.
After a further round of cuts, that’s when the team will open its exhibition schedule in preparation for the opening of the Ontario Hockey League regular season in three weeks.
The team held its annual Luke Williams Memorial Red/White game Friday and the roster was trimmed by 15 players down to 26 players ahead of Saturday’s exhibition opener.
“Guys separated themselves early in camp and I don’t think you can base (the decisions) off just one game,” said Greyhounds Coach Drew Bannister. “They guys that were competing for spots were younger guys like Barrett Hayton and Alex Gritz and they looked really good out there in these games (from the start of camp. And there were some young players that consistently got better.”
The 15 players released following Friday’s contest included goaltender Luca Durante, defencemen Taylor Carlson, Zach Taylor, Isiah Payne and Wyatt Villalta and forwards Luca Nocita, Zach Trott, Brad Johnson, Elijah Nurse, Matthew Hayami, Brett Jacklin, Ryan Brown, Nathan Gooch and Alex Daigle.
Team Red got a pair of goals from overage forward Bobby MacIntyre along with a goal and an assist each from Hayami and Alex Gritz in a 6-3 win over Team White. Veterans Mac Hollowell and Bryce Yetman also scored.
Johnson, Blake Speers and Zach Senyshyn scored for Team White.
Bannister was pleased with the game as a whole.
“I thought the guys were doing a lot of good things out there at both ends of the ice,” said Bannister. “For as much as they’ve gone through in the last four days, they had a good compete level. Team White, when they got down 5-1, started to kick it in.”
The Greyhounds open its exhibition schedule on Saturday night in Saginaw against the Spirit. The two teams then travel north to cap off the weekend series in a 4:07 p.m. contest on Sunday at the Essar Centre.
Bannister said the plan is to move veterans in and out of the lineup over the weekend against Saginaw.
“It’s more important to get some of our younger players in to see where they are and get them a lot of ice time and mix in the veteran players,” Bannister said.
The Greyhounds exhibition schedule wraps up with a home-and-home series next weekend against the Sudbury Wolves beginning Friday night in Sudbury.
The OHL exhibition schedule officially opened on Friday with five games.
In Flint, Matthew Menna made 30 saves as the Flint Firebirds beat the Windsor Spitfires 4-1. Alex DiCarlo, Jack Phibbs, Nicholas Caamano and Luke Kirwan completed the Flint scoring. Cole Carter had the lone Windsor goal.
In Kingston, Nathan Dunkley had three goals while Jason Robertson added a goal and an assist as the Kingston Frontenacs beat the Ottawa 67’s 6-4. Ryan Cranford and Ted Nichol also scored for Kingston. Austen Keating scored three times for Ottawa while Sasha Chmelevski also scored.
In St. Catharines, Christian Propp made 26 saves as the Barrie Colts blanked the Niagara IceDogs 5-0. Jaden Peca had a goal and an assist for Barrie while Josh Carrick, Kade Landry, Adrian Carbonara and Roy Radke also scored. Colton Incze made 20 saves for Niagara,
In Guelph, Givani Smith scored a pair of goals as the Guelph Storm beat the Hamilton Bulldogs 3-1. James McEwan assisted on a pair of goals for Guelph. Austin Hall had the other goal. Luke Kutkevicius had the lone Hamilton goal.
In London, Janne Kuokkanen scored twice and assisted on another goal as the London Knights beat the Sarnia Sting 5-1. Kole Sherwood, Alex Formenton and J.J. Piccinich each chipped in with a goal and an assist. Nicolas Mattinen and Ian Blacker assisted on two goals each for the Knights. Jordan Kyrou scored for Sarnia.