It was a physical finish to the Ontario Hockey League exhibition schedule for the Soo Greyhounds on Sunday afternoon.
It was also an opportunity to see what it takes to play on a nightly basis in the OHL as the Greyhounds dropped a 6-1 decision to the Sudbury Wolves at the GFL Memorial Gardens.
The second of two meetings between the clubs in exhibition action, a game the Greyhounds won 7-3 in Sudbury, it wasn’t a shock for the Greyhounds that the Wolves played a hard, physical game.
“We scored seven goals in Sudbury and we knew that they were going to be extremely well-prepared to play us extremely hard,” said Greyhounds coach John Dean. “They came in and played very physical and very hard and pucks were dumped into our zone on a consistent basis. For a lot of guys, it was a little bit of an awakening on what it takes and how hard you have to compete to make sure that we maintain possession of the puck.”
Dean also said he felt the team “looked a little nervous” playing at home for the first time.
The physical play of the Wolves is something that allowed the visitors to trap the Greyhounds into the defensive zone at times during the game.
“They’re one of the hardest-working teams in the league and they’re one of the more physical style of games that we’re going to see,” Dean said. “Our response to that has to be consistently transporting the puck down the ice and creating scoring chances off them being over-ambitious.”
For the Wolves, the style of game is one that suits the way the team has been built and puck management was also a key for the club in Sunday’s victory.
“We played a hard game and that’s the way we’re built,” said Wolves coach Cory Stillman. “We did a better job in the offensive zone. Against a team like the Sault, if you turn pucks over and play chance-for-chance, you’re in trouble and we did a pretty good job managing it.”
While there were parts of the game that Dean was happy with, the Wolves capitalized on mistakes made by the Greyhounds in the game.
“There were a lot of ebbs and flows to the game,” Dean said. “There were parts of each period that I liked and then we would make a costly mistake and it ended up in the back of our net and that’s what the young guys need to learn, and the older guys too. With the style of game that we play, we really need to execute and bare down and really compete away from the puck.”
“We capitalized on some of their mistakes,” Stillman said. “We’ve got some guys that can skate and that can hound pucks and also have a little more experience.”
Stillman also credited the Wolves younger players in the contest.
Like the Greyhounds, the Wolves played the game minus a handful of veterans, but it gave the young players an opportunity “to see how the game is really played, especially the speed that (the Greyhounds) play at.”
“It gives your young guys a chance to play in different situations,” Stillman added. “Just because you pay with two guys, it doesn’t mean you’re going on the power play. It doesn’t mean you’re going to kill penalties.”
Blake McConville scored three times for the Wolves while Owen Gilhula had a goal and two assists.
Nolan Hutcheson and Phil Caron had the other Sudbury goals.
Goaltender Christian Purboo made 28 saves for the Wolves.
Ryan O’Rourke had the lone goal for the Greyhounds while goaltender Christian Propp made 17 saves.
The Greyhounds open regular season action on Friday night at home against the Flint Firebirds.
The team is set to play five of its first six games of the season at home.