For the first time since the 2007-08 season, the Soo Greyhounds have an opportunity to advance out of the opening round of the Ontario Hockey League playoffs.
With a 2-0 win in Owen Sound over the Attack on Wednesday night, the Greyhounds opened up a 3-1 series lead in their Western Conference quarter-final as the series shifts back to Sault Ste. Marie on Friday night.
“It shows that we’re figuring out what it is to be a really good team,” Greyhounds coach Sheldon Keefe said of sweeping the two games in Owen Sound. “We’ve got confidence in ourselves and our game. Our guys came out and worked really hard and matched the urgency level of a hard-working team in their own rink."
Goaltender Matt Murray made 24 saves to pick up the shutout for the Greyhounds.
“He was excellent,” said Keefe. “We’ve seen him in the zone and tonight seemed like one of those nights that he wasn’t going to be beaten and that gives you a lot of confidence as a coach and a hockey team.”
Patrick Watling gave the Greyhounds an insurance goal in the third period when he redirected a feed from Tyler Gaudet on a shorthanded two-on-one. Watling would come up big later in the game with a blocked shot in the final minute to help preserve the shutout.
“He was great for us, as we’ve come to expect from him,” Keefe said of the overage forward. “He’s done a lot of little things well.”
Jorgen Karterud had the other goal for the Greyhounds in the win.
The Attack made a change in goal as Jack Flinn got the start ahead of Brandon Hope, who had started the previous three games. Flinn made 31 saves in what was his second appearance of the series after seeing action in game two in Sault Ste. Marie.
“Brandon Hope has been really good for us but it was just a chance to get a new look in there,” Attack coach Greg Ireland told the Owen Sound Sun Times about the goaltending change. “I thought Jack responded and did a great job.”
The Greyhounds had an opportunity in the second period to take the game over in the second period after Attack forward Kyle Hope took a major penalty for a check to the head after a hit on Greyhounds forward Jared McCann.
Keefe said following the game that McCann was taken to hospital following the game to have an x-ray taken of his jaw after being checked out at the arena.
“Owen Sound’s doctor checked him after the game and recommended that he head to the hospital to get his jaw checked out,” said Keefe.
The series resumes on Friday night in Sault Ste. Marie for game five. Puck drop is set for 7:07 p.m.
In other action on Wednesday night, in Plymouth, Zack Mitchell had a goal and three assists to lead the Guelph Storm to a 7-2 win over the Plymouth Whalers. Jason Dickinson chipped in with two goals and an assist. Nick Ebert, Tyler Bertuzzi, Justin Auger and Pius Suter also scored for Guelph. Storm goaltender Justin Nichols made 40 saves. Bryce Yetman and Connor Chatham scored for Plymouth in the loss. Whalers goaltender Alex Nedeljkovic stopped 40 shots before being pulled after Guelph’s sixth goal. Zack Bowman stopped five of six shots in the final 12 minutes of action.
In Saginaw, Dane Fox had three goals and an assist to lead the Erie Otters to a 7-3 win over the Saginaw Spirit. Connor Brown had a goal and three assists for the Otters. Connor McDavid had a goal and two assists while Andre Burakovsky added a goal and an assist in the win. Brendan Gaunce also scored for the Otters in the win. Dylan Sadowy, Cody Payne and Blake Clarke scored for Saginaw in the loss.
In action around the OHL on Tuesday night, six series continued, including all four in the Eastern Conference.
In St. Catharines, the Niagara IceDogs scored a pair of third-period goals to break a scoreless tie and beat the North Bay Battalion 2-0. Billy Jenkins scored the game-winner at 13:11 of the final period while Eric Ming sealed the win with an empty net goal with five seconds remaining. Niagara goaltender Brent Moran made 42 saves for the shutout. North Bay goaltender Jake Smith stopped 24 shots in the loss.
In Plymouth, Zach Lorentz scored the game-winner with 12 minutes remaining in regulation time to give the Plymouth Whalers a 2-1 win over the Guelph Storm. Victor Crus Rydberg also scored in the win while goaltender Alex Nedeljkovic stopped 52 shots. Ryan Horvat had the lone goal for the Storm in the loss.
In Sudbury, Andrew Mangiapane had two goals and an assist to lead the Barrie Colts to a 6-4 win over the Sudbury Wolves. Brendan Lemieux also had a pair of goals for the Colts in the win. Aaron Ekblad chipped in with a goal and an assist while Jake Dotchin also scored. Jonathan Laser and Andreas Athanasiou had two assists each for Barrie. Nicholas Baptiste had a goal and two assists for Sudbury in the loss. Connor Crisp added a goal and an assist for the Wolves while Radek Faksa and Brody Silk also scored.
In Peterborough, Matt Mahalak made 42 saves to lead the Kingston Frontenacs to a 4-2 win over the Peterborough Petes. Samuel Schutt had a pair of goals for Kingston while Michael Moffat and Sam Bennett also scored. Andrew D’Agostini stopped 44 shots for the Petes in the loss. Nick Ritchie and Steven Lorentz scored for Peterborough.
In Windsor, Ryan Rupert and Bo Horvat had a goal and three assists each to lead the London Knights to a 10-2 win over the Windsor Spitfires. Matt Rupert and Christ Tierney added a goal and an assist each while Zach Bell, Chandler Yackimowicz, Michael McCarron, Nikita Zadorov, Josh Anderson and Mitchell Marner also scored for the Knights. Ben Johnson and Josh Ho-Sang scored for the Spitfires.
In Oshawa, Josh Sterk scored at 11:23 of the second overtime period to lift the Oshawa Generals to a 6-5 win over the Mississauga Steelheads. Cole Cassels had a goal and two assists in the win while Michael Dal Colle scored a pair of goals in the win. Scott Laughton and Dylan Smoskowitz also scored for the Generals. Sam Babintsev scored three times for the Steelheads while Austin Gerhart and Lucas Venuto also scored.
Oshawa leads Mississauga 3-0 – Game four on Thursday in Mississauga
Niagara leads North Bay 2-1 – Game four on Thursday in St. Catharines
Kingston leads Peterborough 3-0 – Game four on Thursday in Peterborough
Barrie leads Sudbury 3-0 – Game four on Thursday in Sudbury
Guelph leads Plymouth 3-1 – Game five on Friday in Guelph
Sault Ste. Marie leads Owen Sound – Game five on Friday in Sault Ste. Marie
Erie leads Saginaw – Game five on Thursday in Saginaw
London leads Windsor 3-0 – Game four on Thursday in Windsor
File photo by SooToday.com's Kenneth Armstrong