The Soo Greyhounds will head into the Christmas break with a three-game winning streak thanks to a 4-1 win over the Windsor Spitfires in Ontario Hockey League action on Sunday night.
The win pulls the Greyhounds two points ahead of the Spitfires in the OHL’s Western Conference standings while also pulling them into a tie with the Plymouth Whalers.
After trading goals early on in the game, the Greyhounds took the play to the Spitfires and used three unanswered goals to pick up the victory.
“There’s no question that was our best and most complete effort,” said Keefe. “I don’t want to say it was perfect by any means but perfect is pretty hard to attain. There were some things that we weren’t pleased with but overall, the guys stuck with the plan and didn’t give up many chances against.”
With the game tied at one, the Greyhounds scored three unanswered goals, including one by Jared McCann from the side boards that deflected off a skate past Windsor goaltender Jaroslav Pavelka that put the locals up 2-1. Then, in the second period, Nick Cousins scored on a chance that saw a Michael Schumacher shot from the right wing deflect off Pavleka’s mask before deflecting past him off Cousins’ head.
“It’s one of those things that when you play the game the right way, it’s an amazing thing that the hockey gods tend to take care of you and good things happen,” said Keefe. “The way things have gone here the last few weeks, a lot of times we haven’t got those bounces. If anything they’ve gone the other way. We’re playing the right way and bounces have started to fall for us. It’s amazing how that happens.”
Cousins and Schumacher, who had a goal in the win, also had a pair of assists for the Greyhounds. David Broll also scored.
Greyhounds goaltender Matt Murray stopped 19 shots.
Brady Vail had the lone goal for the Spitfires while Pavelka stopped 35 shots.
“We worked fairly hard for the first part of the game,” said Spitfires coach Bob Boughner. “I think the wheels fell off a bit after the fourth goal. All-in-all, it was just an ok effort at best. You’ve got certain guys that are playing a ton of minutes and we played last night. It would have been nice if we could have kept it 2-1 going into the third instead of 3-1.”
The game wasn’t without its extracurricular activities. The latter stages of the game saw players coming together and combine for five misconducts and a pair of fighting majors along with a few roughing minors in the final six minutes of the game.
The fisticuffs also led to a shouting match between Keefe and Joe Cirella of the Greyhounds and Boughner.
“He thought I was sending guys out to fight, which is completely untrue,” said Boughner. “Cousins came by our bench and elbowed a guy in the face and butt-ended another guy and the refs didn’t see it. Obviously guys were upset and tried to even scores. If you look at who I had out there, it wasn’t any tough guys running after anybody.”
Keefe had little to say about the incidents following the game.
“That’s a division rival and there’s a lot at stake in this game,” said Keefe. “You can see how competitive things are. That’s usually a by-product of two teams battling hard. They felt like we were in control of the game and tried to change things up a bit. Our guys, for the most part, handled themselves well.”
The win pulls the Greyhounds record to 17-16-2-0 going into the Christmas break. Windsor falls to 14-15-1-5 with the loss.
The Greyhounds are now off until Dec. 29 when they host the Niagara IceDogs at the Essar Centre.
In Brampton, Brandon Robinson had three goals and an assist while Marcus McIvor had four assists as the Brampton Battalion beat the Niagara IceDogs 7-1.
In London, Seth Griffith scored the overtime winner as the London Knights won their 20th straight game, 6-5 over the Kingston Frontenacs. Griffith scored a pair of goals in the win.
In Mississauga, Joshua Leivo had a goal and an assist as the Sudbury Wolves beat the Mississauga Steelheads 3-1.
In Peterborough, Andreas Athanasiou and Erik Bradford had a goal and an assist while Alex Fotinos stopped 36 shots as the Barrie Colts beat the Peterborough Petes 4-1.
In Oshawa, Cole Cassels scored at 14:06 of the third period to give the Oshawa Generals a 4-3 win over the Ottawa 67’s. Cassels had a pair of goals in the win while Ottawa goaltender Clint Windsor stopped 40 shots.
Photo Courtesy Jim Egan