As good as the goaltending had been through five games, the result wasn’t exactly what one would expect.
A shutout performance from Owen Sound Attack goaltender Michael McNiven and another strong performance from Soo Greyhounds goaltender Joseph Raaymakers was the story as the Attack beat the Greyhounds 1-0 on Sunday night at the Harry Lumley Bayshore Community Centre in Owen Sound.
The low-scoring contest came after the winning team in each of the previous five games had scored four goals.
The win sends the Attack to the Ontario Hockey League’s Western Conference final thanks to a 4-2 series win over the Greyhounds.
McNiven made 23 saves for the shutout while Raaymakers made 41 saves for the Greyhounds as the pair battled again in what had become a trend in the series.
“Joseph was outstanding for us,” said Greyhounds Coach Drew Bannister. “He played really well. He gave us an opportunity to win.”
McNiven credited the play of Raaymakers in the series.
“The whole series he battled hard,” McNiven told RogersTV of his Greyhounds counterpart.
Nick Suzuki had what turned into the lone goal of the contest at 13:09 of the second period when he circled the Greyhounds goal and managed to bank the puck off Raaymakers and into the Greyhounds goal. The goal came in the midst of a strong stretch of play by the Attack that saw the team outshoot the Greyhounds 20-7 in the period.
“The second part of the second period, in the last 10 minutes, they put some pressure on us and that’s where they generated a lot of their shots,” Bannister said. “It took its toll on us. We had a good push in the second part of the third period where we were really urgent in our game. We had opportunities.”
Though he felt the Greyhounds did have some good scoring chances, Bannister would admit he felt the team didn’t generate enough “offensive zone time.”
“We didn’t put enough pucks to the net and we weren’t able to recover them,” Bannister added. “(Owen Sound) was able to recover a lot of pucks by just putting pucks to the net and that’s something we didn’t do very well.”
Although the finish to the season was a disappointing one, Bannister looked back on the season with pride.
“It’s hard to come up with words at this point,” Bannister said. “Looking back on the season, we’ve got a lot to be proud of. I’m proud of the group and what they did in how they come to work every day whether it was a practice or in games.”
“I’m sure we’ll look back on this and see how good of a team we had and what we accomplished as a team, all the guys should be proud,” Raaymakers said. “Right now it’s just disappointing.”
The Attack will have to wait until Tuesday night to find out its opponent in the Western Conference final.
In Sunday’s other game, Mitchell Stephens scored at 9:46 of overtime to give the London Knights a 2-1 victory over the Erie Otters to force a seventh game in the other Western Conference semifinal series. Stephens converted a feed from Robert Thomas and beat Erie goaltender Troy Timpano to give the Knights the victory.
Janne Kuokkanen had the other London goal while goaltender Tyler Parsons made 44 saves. Jordan Sambrook had the lone Erie goal.
McNiven called advancing to the conference final a “great feeling” but also spoke of the close attention the Attack will be paying to the seventh game between London and Erie.
“We’re going to be paying close attention to both those teams and working on what we can do to make ourselves successful,” McNiven said.
The Otters took a 3-2 series lead thanks to a 6-3 win on Saturday night. After falling behind 2-0, the Knights scored three times in 1:10 early in the second period to take the lead, only to surrender four unanswered goals in a 6-3 loss.
Taylor Raddysh paced the Otters with a goal and two assists while Sambrook, Alex DeBrincat and Anthony Cirelli chipped in with a goal and an assist each. Dylan Strome and Patrick Fellows also scored for the Otters.
Max Jones scored a pair of goals for London. Kuokkanen also scored for the Knights.
AROUND THE OHL
The Eastern Conference final matchup is set as the Peterborough Petes will face the Mississauga Steelheads.
The Petes finished the regular season as the top seed in the conference while Mississauga finished second.
Peterborough swept the Kingston Frontenacs in the second round while Mississauga needed five games to beat the Oshawa Generals.
The Eastern Conference final is scheduled to open on Thursday night in Peterborough.
In news off the ice around the OHL, GuelphToday’s Tony Saxon is reporting that the Guelph Storm is expected to bring in George Burnett to fill the vacant general manager and coaching positions with the team.
Jeff Marek of Sportsnet also reported the Burnett move via Twitter while added that Sudbury Wolves general manager Barclay Branch would take over Burnett’s former role with the Flint Firebirds.
Marek reported that the moves are expected to happen early this week.