Mistakes away from the puck cost the Soo Greyhounds a chance to pick up valuable points in the Ontario Hockey League playoff race on Wednesday night.
Facing a division rival, the Greyhounds dropped a 7-5 decision to the Saginaw Spirit Wednesday at the GFL Memorial Gardens.
As the team continues to battle for a playoff spot, the Greyhounds generated chances offensively in the contest, but mistakes away from the puck were the difference.
“We did a lot of good things,” said Greyhounds coach John Dean. “We had a lot of scoring chances and when you look back at that game, we’ll probably kick ourselves for missing a few.
“We’re still consistently making some poor mistakes away from the puck and it’s costing us games,” Dean added. “You can’t give that team that many opportunities to score. They’re going to make it look easy when you give them those kinds of chances.”
Dean added that it’s a case of “same mistakes, same guys.”
“That storyline is getting old for us,” Dean also said.
Dean would also say that, despite the mistakes, there’s a sense of accountability among the players brewing, which he says is a good thing.
“I could hear some murmurs as guys went off here, holding each other accountable and making sure they know that it’s unacceptable,” Dean said. “If they need to keep hearing it from me, it’s probably not a good thing.”
“They hold each other to a standard and, away from the puck, the standard wasn’t met tonight,” Dean added.
For the Spirit, the result was important, but coach Chris Lazary wasn’t necessarily pleased with the game.
“I didn’t like our game at all,” Lazary said. “It’s one of those games where you won a game, but you feel guilty winning. The Sault played hard, they played fast. They created a lot of chances. I did not like our game at all
Saginaw’s top line of Ryan Suzuki, Cole Coskey, and Cole Perfetti combined for 12 points in the win
“When you look back at a game and the other team’s big guys score goals and yours don’t, you’re obviously frustrated but I don’t think that’s the tale of the game,” Dean said. “They made some great plays and that’s a credit to that group, but I thought we handed them some (chances) too. You can’t hand that line freebies and we gave them a few.”
Perfetti assisted on five goals while Suzuki had a goal and three assists. Coskey finished the night with two goals and an assist for Saginaw.
“I didn’t love some of their tracks,” Lazary said. “I didn’t love some of their defensive zone arrivals. Offensively with the puck, obviously they had a big night and the got us through. On a night like this, you need your top line to be your top line.”
D.J. Busdeker also had two goals and an assist for the Spirit. Bode Wilde and Damien Giroux also scored.
Marshall Frappier made 23 saves for Saginaw.
Rory Kerins paced the Greyhounds with two goals and an assist.
Dean spoke of Kerins playing the game while being “under the weather” and overcame a tough start to the night to help try to keep the game close for the Greyhounds.
“His game has probably been the most consistent game for our group probably since the Christmas break,” Dean said.
Cole MacKay had a goal and an assist for the Greyhounds while Tanner Dickinson and Robert Calisti also scored.
Defenceman Jacob LeGuerrier assisted on three goals for the Greyhounds.
Goaltender Nick Malik stopped 18 shots for the Greyhounds.
The loss drops the Greyhounds record to 24-27-2-0 ahead of a three-game road trip that begins on Friday night against the Oshawa Generals.
The Greyhounds now sit three points out of the final playoff spot in the OHL’s Western Conference after the Erie Otters dropped a shootout decision to the Barrie Colts on Wednesday, gaining a point on the Greyhounds.
The win improves Saginaw’s record to 33-15-2-2 and moves the team four points ahead of the Flint Firebirds for top spot in the OHL’s West Division.
In other action around the league on Wednesday night, in Erie, rookie Brandt Clarke had the shootout winner as the Barrie Colts beat the Erie Otters 4-3. Barrie goaltender Jet Greaves stopped 33 shots and all three Erie shooters in the shootout. Hayden Fowler had a pair of goals for the Otters.
In Owen Sound, Kaleb Pearson had two goals and two assists as the Owen Sound Attack beat the Hamilton Bulldogs 5-1. Sergey Popov chipped in with a goal and two assists for Owen Sound.In Oshawa, Brett Neumann’s goal at 19:21 of the third period was the game-winner as the Oshawa Generals beat the Kingston Frontenacs 5-4. Neumann and Allan McShane had a goal and two assists each for Oshawa. Shane Wright had a goal and two assists for the Frontena