In a battle for a division lead and with every point at a premium, the Soo Greyhounds got one on Thursday night.
The general feeling is they didn’t deserve two though.
The Greyhounds surrendered a goal late in regulation time and then gave up a power play goal in overtime, dropping a 4-3 decision at the North Bay Memorial Gardens in Ontario Hockey League action against the North Bay Battalion on Thursday.
With the Greyhounds leading 3-2 late in the third period, North Bay’s Brandon Coe broke down the right wing and put the puck on net, beating Taylor from a sharp angle to tie the game and force overtime.
“At the end of the day, we probably didn’t deserve to win that game,” Greyhounds Coach John Dean said.
“We mismanaged the puck the entire game and it cost us,” Dean also said.
“We started off slow and that carried through the game,” said Greyhounds overage defenceman Jordan Sambrook. “Early on we turned the puck over too much and gave them too much momentum.”
The overtime winner came on a broken play.
With the Battalion on the power play, high-scoring forward Justin Brazeau fanned on a shot from near the top of the left circle. The loose puck found its way to Brad Chenier, who proceeded to slip a pass cross-slot to Struthers, who beat Greyhounds netminder Ethan Taylor to give North Bay the win.
The goal came late in a penalty to Greyhounds defenceman Mac Hollowell, who was called for hooking following a battle with Chenier coming out from behind the North Bay net.
Dean called it a “difficult call.”
“Mac earns his ice and invades space really well in getting body position,” Dean added.
Matthew Villalta got the start for the Greyhounds but left the game with 13:22 to go in the third period due to an injury.
“He got hit on a two-on-one and didn’t quite feel at his best, so we decided to take him out of the game,” Dean said.
Dean added the severity of the injury wasn’t known
Villalta made 31 saves before leaving the game.
Taylor finished the night stopping nine of 11 shots.
“It’s really tough to come in a game that late,” Dean said. “He made a couple of big saves point blank when we gave them some high slot shots on our defensive zone coverage.”
Keeghan Howdeshell and Barrett Hayton had a goal and an assist each for the Greyhounds.
Hollowell also scored.
Battalion goaltender Christian Purboo stopped 35 shots.
Harrison Caines and Mitchell Russell had the other goals for the Battalion.
“We put a good effort together tonight,” North Bay Assistant Coach Adam Dennis said.
“I think it started (Wednesday in a 5-2 loss to the Sudbury). We came ready to play right from the drop of the puck and our guys stuck with it even though we didn’t get the results yesterday, but they put the same work ethic forward tonight and were rewarded.”
Things remain tight atop the OHL’s West Division.
With the loss, the Greyhounds record sits at 35-12-6-1 heading into action on Friday night in Sudbury against the Wolves.
The Saginaw Spirit pulled to within two points of the Greyhounds thanks to a 9-2 win at home on Wednesday night against Flint.
Saginaw is also in action on Friday night as the team hosts the Owen Sound Attack.
With the Greyhounds having the rest of the weekend off after Friday’s game with the Wolves, Friday marks the beginning of three games in four days for the Spirit as the team hosts the Oshawa Generals on Saturday night before going on the road to face Sarnia on Monday.
In a battle for positioning in the Eastern Conference, North Bay improves to 25-25-2-2. The team is battling with the Hamilton Bulldogs and Peterborough Petes for the sixth through eighth seeds in the East.
The team got a break as the Petes lost at home to Barrie on Thursday night though the Colts win means Barrie keeps pace with the Battalion. Barrie sits six points behind North Bay in the standings.
In other action around the OHL on Thursday night, in Peterborough, Ben Hawerchuk had two goals and an assist as the Colts beat the Petes 4-2. Tyler Tucker, Ryan Suzuki, and Sam Rhodes had two assists each for Barrie. Kai Edmonds made 30 saves for Barrie.
In Windsor, second period goals by Nathan Staios and Cole Purboo were the difference as the Windsor Spitfires beat the Sarnia Sting 3-1.
-With files from Kortney Kenney/BayToday