It wasn’t an easy night to be a goaltender on Friday night at the GFL Memorial Gardens.
The Soo Greyhounds and North Bay Battalion combined for 13 goals as the Greyhounds skated away with an 8-5 win over the Battalion in Ontario Hockey League action.
“We don’t like about 15 minutes of our game,” said Greyhounds coach John Dean. “At the same time, we really started to see some things we talked about in the last two weeks.”
Holding a 5-2 lead, the Greyhounds surrendered three goals in a span of 3:46 in the second period, sending the game into the third period tied at five before the Greyhounds scored three times to pick up the win.
“It was right as we came in for the intermission and we addressed that we can’t play like that for those 15 minutes,” said Greyhounds overage forward Cole MacKay. “We sat in the room and said ‘We’ve got 20 minutes to play, we can either turn around and win this game or we can go into a shell and just let them take this one from us.’”
“We were really calm after what could have been a disastrous night for us,” MacKay added, calling the team bouncing back “another big stepping stone in our journey here.”
“We mismanaged the puck,” Dean said of the stretch in the second period. “I didn’t like our rush coverage. “They do a really good job in transition and we started getting very soft in our rush coverage. Our high forward was getting blown by by their group. In front of our net, we weren’t picking up sticks and rebounds. It’s something we’ve addressed over the course of the season when it’s been an issue and it was really good tonight with the exception of the lapse in the second period.”
The Greyhounds top line of Tye Kartye, Rory Kerins, and Cole MacKay combined for 15 points for the Greyhounds in the win.
“They put the team on their back and that’s what they need to do some nights early on in the season,” Dean said.
“Give them credit, they have some really good offensive players that play the right way and play hard and we do too,” said North Bay coach Ryan Oulahen. “At times, that was a pretty exciting hockey game. We made a really good push there in the second period to get us back into it and then we made some bad mistakes at the wrong time in the third. When you give it to their best players, they capitalize.”
The Greyhounds opened the scoring in the opening minute of the contest as rookie Marco Mignosa took a turnover by North Bay’s Kyle Jackson and proceeded to beat Battalion goaltender Dom DiVincentiis high stick side from right faceoff circle.
North Bay evened the score midway through the opening period as Tnias Mathurin scored on a rebound after Matvey Petrov’s initial shot was stopped by Greyhounds goaltender Samuel Ivanov.
Cole MacKay gave the Greyhounds a 2-1 lead at 15:25 of the frame as he took a feed from Rory Kerins from behind the net and beat DiVincentiis high short side from the right faceoff circle.
Kerins extended the Sault lead in the final minute of the period………
Mignosa would make the score 4-1 Greyhounds 83 seconds into the second period when he beat DiVincentiis stick side from the slot through a screen.
With the Battalion shorthanded, Josh Currie cut the Greyhounds lead to 4-2 at 6:23 scoring on a loose puck in tight.
Tye Kartye restored the three-goal lead for the Greyhounds at 9:09 of the second period as he took a feed from Cole MacKay and beat DiVincentiis.
North Bay captain Liam Arnsby made it 5-3, scoring on a loose puck in tight at 11:59 before Petrov cut the Sault lead to one, beating Ivanov high from the top of the crease at 13:36.
Mitchell Russell tied the game for North Bay at 15:45 with a power play goal, beating Ivanov from the right faceoff circle.
In the opening minute of the third, Mignosa deflected a point shot by Robert Calisti past DiVincentiis, but it was waved off after being deflected in by a high stick.
The Greyhounds would retake the lead at 3:21 of the third when Kerins broke down the left wing and beat DiVincntiis 5-hole to make it 6-5.
The veteran Sault forward proceeded to extend the lead to 7-5 just 2:38 later as he took a feed from defenceman Ryan O’Rourke and beat DiVincentiis with a one-timer from the right circle on the power play.
With 2:17 to go, MacKay converted a pass from Kerins on a 2-on-1 to make it 8-5.
Oulahen called the Battalion comeback in the second period “encouraging.”
“There was no letting off,” Oulahen added. “The guys believed they were in the game still at that point. We’re showing that we’re a team that can score some goals. That was really encouraging.”
Kerins finished the night with six points on the strength of three goals and three assists.
The veteran forward has 10 points in his last two games after scoring a pair of goals and two assists in the Greyhounds win over Sudbury on Wednesday night.
MacKay added two goals and three assists while Kartye had a goal and three assists.
“We’ve got a lot of experience and we’re just trying to focus on the simple things and get pucks behind the defencemen and play within our system,” MacKay said of the trio.
MacKay also said “it’s one of those lines where you can come back to the bench and feed off each other and work off what the last shift provided and change different things that we need to throughout the game.”
The two-goal night for Mignosa gives the rookie forward four goals in his last four games.
“He’s a very confident player and very skilled,” Dean said. “When the puck is on his stick, good things are happening and he’s starting to learn how to play away from the puck as well.”
Ivanov made 28 saves for the Greyhounds.
Dean also provided an update on forward Kalvyn Watson, who suffered a broken wrist on Wednesday night.
Dean said the break was clean and surgery isn’t on the table at this point for Watson, who is looking at potentially four to six weeks before returning to the lineup.
Brandon Coe and Ty Nelson had two assists each for North Bay.
DiVincentiis made 22 saves for the Battalion.
The two teams return to action on Saturday night in a 7:07 p.m. start at the GFL Memorial Gardens.
Oulahen said the message heading into Saturday is to regroup.
“We’ll park this one quick and we’ve got an opportunity,” Oulahen said. “We got a good win (Thursday), so we’ve got a good opportunity to still make this weekend a good weekend for us.”