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Hounds rally to deflate Spirit

It may have been Halloween but the Soo Greyhounds weren't prepared to handout any treats to the visiting Saginaw Spirit.
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It may have been Halloween but the Soo Greyhounds weren't prepared to handout any treats to the visiting Saginaw Spirit.

With Saginaw knocking on the door looking for victory, the Greyhounds teased the Spirit for half the game before slamming the door shut and sending the Spirit home empty handed.

After falling behind by two goals twice, the Greyhounds found a spark and scored four unanswered goals en route to a 5-3 Ontario Hockey League win in front of 2,262 at Memorial Gardens.

The spark came in the form of a goal from Hounds rookie Jason Pitton, which initiated the Hounds to a flurry of three goals in a span of 2:56 late in the second period.

While trailing 3-1, Pitton showed incredible hustle as he picked up a loose puck in open ice and speeded down the right wing and fired a shot past Spirit goaltender Mike Brown.

A rejuvenated Hounds team then swarmed the Spirit net as Scott Dobben scored his second goal of the night 57 seconds later to tie the game before Jeff Carter added another less than two minutes later to give the Greyhounds a 4-3 lead.

In the third period, the Greyhounds shutdown the Saginaw attack, limiting the Spirit to just five shots on net.

Dobben scored his third goal of the night and ninth goal of the season into an empty net to seal the win. Carter and Jeff Doyle added two assists each on the night.

"Two months ago we would have found a way to lose this game and now we are finding ways to win. And we got some big performances out of Scotty Dobben and Jason Pitton. We didn't get any bounces early on and then Pitton comes down and that kind of turned the tide" said Greyhounds head coach Marty Abrams.

"Pitton is a guy who comes to the rink like a professional and is prepared to work hard every single day. It was great to see him get some rewards because he works that hard every day."

With the win, the Greyhounds improve to 9-6-1-1 and share top spot in the OHL's west division with the Plymouth Whalers with 20 points each. The victory also ended a three-game losing skid.

The Spirit fall to 3-9-1-1 and have now lost five games in a row.

The new look Spirit, playing their first game under new coach Moe Mantha, opened the game with hustle and good puck movement but were unable to recover after surrendering the three quick goals.

Paul Bissonnette opened the scoring for the Spirit on the power play in the first period. Mike Suggs and Nick Lees added goals in the second period.

Lees goal chased Greyhounds starting goaltender Jakub Cech, who was playing in front of his parents who are visiting from the Czech Republic, from the game 4:54 into the second period. Kevin Druce entered and stopped all 12 shots he faced.

"This was the first time that (Cech) was a little bit shaky but some of those goals weren't his fault. Sometimes you change goalies just to create a spark and that is really why I made the move. He has been nothing short of spectacular for us this year," said Abrams.

Bissonnette's opening goal was scored as the Spirit defenseman dumped the puck into the Greyhounds zone which hit the metal partition on the glass and bounced past Cech, who had no idea where the puck was.

Abrams knew the Hounds would face an energetic Spirit team with a new coach behind the bench for the game.

"When a team makes a big trade or a new coach comes in, there is always that honeymoon period. We knew that Moe was going to have them fired up and they were. They skated hard and moved the puck well and I think a month from now they won't be losing these kinds of games," said Abrams.

Brett Connolly made his debut in a Greyhounds uniform after being acquired from Sudbury on Thursday night for Matt Maccarone. Connolly, a 17 year-old centre and former first round OHL draft pick, showed no hesitation in dropping the gloves with the Spirit's Taylor Raszka in the first period.

The Hounds also played without overage forward Colt King, who sat out the game with a hip injury suffered in Friday night's 2-1 loss to Sarnia. His status remains undetermined.

The Greyhounds conclude their three-game homestand on Sunday as Plymouth visits for an early season west division first place battle. Game time is 2 p.m.

In other OHL action on Friday, Echo Bay native Niko Tuomi scored the game winner as Guelph beat Erie 5-3. Corey Perry, the OHL's leading scorer, notched three goals and an assist as London hammered Kitchener 7-2.

Jonathan Lehun scored twice as Owen Sound beat Windsor 4-1, Gino Pisellini scored two goals as Plymouth edged Sudbury 5-4, Sal Peralta recorded a hat trick as Toronto defeated Mississauga 5-2, Belleville and Ottawa skated to a 3-3 tie and Kingston beat Oshawa 4-1.