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Katchouk continues torrid pace for Greyhounds

A pair of goals from Boris Katchouk and a 35-save performance from Matthew Villalta were the difference for the Soo Greyhounds on Friday night
20170323 Flint Firebirds at Soo Greyhounds Game 1 KA 06
Boris Katchouk of the Soo Greyhounds seen during Game 1 of their OHL playoff series against the Flint Firebirds March 23, 2017 at the Essar Centre in Sault Ste. Marie. Kenneth Armstrong/SooToday

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It’s about as good a start to the season as he could have expected.

Soo Greyhounds forward Boris Katchouk scored a pair of goals, including his third game-winning goal of the season, on Friday night as the Soo Greyhounds beat the London Knights 4-1 at Budweiser Gardens.

The two-goal performance gives Katchouk eight in seven games this season. The Tampa Bay Lightning prospect said he tries not to focus solely on scoring goals and is looking to improve all aspect of his game.

“It’s just keeping calm and practicing the other areas of my game that I need to improve on,” Katchouk said. “Once I keep doing that, it will help me through the season. I can’t just let off and be too confident. I just have to keep improving every game and help the team.”

Greyhounds Coach Drew Bannister credited the veteran for his hot start to the season.

“Boris has had a lot bounces go his way,” said Bannister. “He’s been hard around the net and he’s been rewarded for going to the net hard and finding loose pucks and not quitting. Boris has done a lot of good things since he’s been back.”

Sophomore goaltender Matthew Villalta got his second start in as many days, and third consecutive start overall, and made 35 saves for the Greyhounds.

“I felt pretty comfortable in the net,” Villalta said. “I felt calm and relaxed. I just tried to keep tracking the puck and making saves.”

The Greyhounds held the Knights scoreless in four power play opportunities and Bannister would call Villalta a big part of that, especially during some kills early in the contest.

“He gave us an opportunity to stay in the game,” Bannister said.

“He was outstanding for us tonight and probably the difference in the game,” Bannister also said. “He made some key saves at times in the game when we needed it. He just settled us down. We’ve come to understand that Matty is that kind of goalie. He just seems to be more calm and confident this year.”

Jack Kopacka and Hayden Verbeek had the other goals for the Greyhounds, who improve to 5-1-1-0 with the victory. Tim Gettinger assisted on a pair of goals.

Josh Nelson had the lone goal for the Knights while goaltender Tyler Johnson made 29 saves.

The loss drops the Knights record to 1-5-0-0 on the season.

The Greyhounds return to action on Oct. 11 at home against the Saginaw Spirit in a 7:07 p.m. puck drop at the Essar Centre. The game opens a stretch for the Greyhounds that sees the team play five of its next six games on home ice.

In other action around the OHL on Friday night, shootout goals by Tye Felhaber, Sasha Chmelevski and Graeme Clarke were the difference as the Ottawa 67’s beat the Peterborough Petes 4-3 in Ottawa. Chmelevski had a pair of goals for the 67’s, who scored three times in the third period before Nikita Korostelev scored with two seconds to go in regulation time for the Petes to force the extra frame.

In Kingston, Brett Neumann and Sam Field had two goals each as the Kingston Frontenacs beat the Flint Firebirds 6-3. Jeremy Helvig made 33 saves for Kingston.

In Mississauga, Albert Michnac had two goals and two assists as the Mississauga Steelheads beat the Sudbury Wolves 5-4. Cole Schwindt chipped in with a goal and two assists for the Steelheads.

In Sarnia, Justin Fazio made 31 saves as the Sarnia Sting beat the Barrie Colts 4-1. Adam Ruzicka scored a pair of goals for the Sting.

In Kitchener, five different players had goals as the Kitchener Rangers beat the Erie Otters 5-3. Jake Henderson had a goal and an assist for the Rangers.

In Guelph, Michael DiPietro stopped 45 shots as the Windsor Spitfires beat the Guelph Storm 2-1. Aaron Luchuk had the game-winner for the Spitfires.

In Oshawa, Matthew Philip had the overtime winner as the Niagara IceDogs beat the Oshawa Generals 5-4. Ben Jones scored a pair of goals while Danial Singer had a goal and two assists for the IceDogs.