While there was a lot to like, the result was tough to take for the Soo Greyhounds on Wednesday night.
The Kitchener Rangers erased a two-goal deficit in a 5-4 win over the Greyhounds on Wednesday night at the GFL Memorial Gardens in a game that the Greyhounds feel was decided by mistakes on four even strength goals by the Rangers in the game.
“Four big mistakes (led to) four goals,” said Greyhounds coach John Dean. “Four catastrophic mistakes end up in the back of our net. At this time of year, it’s inexcusable. We played an unbelievable hockey game and can’t ask of much more from our guys. We fell asleep at the wheel four times.”
“If we’re trying to prepare for playoff hockey and trying to get in, you can’t make those kinds of mistakes in a game like that,” Dean added.
For the Rangers, Wednesday was a game that saw the team fight back from two-goal deficits three times.
“As a coach, you’re pretty happy with your group when you can come back from deficits,” said Rangers general manager/coach Mike McKenzie. “It would have been easy to look at it and say, ‘It’s not our night.’”
McKenzie added that the message following the opening period, in which the Rangers fell behind 3-1, was to stick with the plan.
“The guys responded really well,” McKenzie said. “They showed pretty good grit and resiliency.”
Rangers goaltender Jacob Ingham was solid for the Rangers, stopping 39 shots in the win.
“That’s the thing about him is he can have an off-period and he’s mentally strong enough to rein it back in and not let it snowball into four, five, or six (goals),” McKenzie said. “He’s done that a couple times this year where he’s had a rough first and you think it might not be his night and then he reels it back in.”
“We had a lot of Grade-A’s,” Dean said. “That’s one of our better games, but at this time of year, it’s tough to say that (with the result).”
“In general, that’s a game that we’ll look to and say ‘Wow, that’s how we want to play, minus the four mistakes,’” Dean also said. “There are a lot of positives we’ll take from it. I loved our chances for. It wasn’t a game where we were hanging on by the skin of our teeth. We had a lot of chances to score and put that game away and we didn’t.”
At the other end, Greyhounds goaltender Nick Malik made 26 saves.
Dean declined comment when asked whether Malik is the Greyhounds No. 1 goaltender at this point, saying, “whoever is going to get me the wins is going to go in, but he’s a guy that we rely on to be big.”
Cole MacKay had a pair of goals for the Greyhounds while Zack Trott finished the night with a goal and two assists. Rory Kerins had the other Sault goal.
Reid Valade had a goal and an assist for the Rangers.
Declan McDonnell, Francesco Pinelli, Liam Hawel, and Jonathan Yantsis also scored for Kitchener.
The game marked the return of former Greyhounds defenceman Holden Wale, who was traded to the Rangers ahead of the OHL trade deadline in January.
“He’s been great for us,” McKenzie said. “He’s quietly playing really well for us. He’s not a flashy player but he fits our style of play. He’s a guy that can skate, he moves the puck, he plays hard, he competes. He’s a great kid in the room.”
For the Greyhounds, defenceman Billy Constantinou missed the game due to injury.
Dean said the blueliner remains out day-to-day.
Constantinou skated on Wednesday morning but Dean said his status for Friday’s game against Guelph wasn’t known on Wednesday night.
The Greyhounds return to action Friday in a 7:07 p.m. contest against the Guelph Storm at the GFL Memorial Gardens.
Guelph has lost eight of their last 10 games and sit in sixth in the OHL’s Western Conference, just five points ahead of the Greyhounds.
The Greyhounds record falls to 23-25-2-0 and the team wasn’t able to keep pace with the eighth-seeded Erie Otters, who beat the Storm on Wednesday in Guelph. Erie moves three points ahead of the Greyhounds for the final playoff spot in the conference with Wednesday’s results.
For the Rangers, the win improves their record to 30-12-5-2 as the team sits one point behind the London Knights for first in the OHL’s Midwest Division.
In other action around the OHL on Wednesday night, in Guelph, Chad Yetman had a pair of goals as the Erie Otters scored three unanswered goals in a 4-2 win over the Guelph Storm. Maxim Golod had three assists for the Otters.
In Kingston, Shane Wright had a pair of goals as the Kingston Frontenacs beat the Peterborough Petes 4-3. Kingston goaltender Christian Propp made 45 saves. Akil Thomas scored twice for Peterborough.