Coming off one of their best efforts of the season, the Soo Greyhounds needed a late-game push Friday night against the Mississauga Steelheads to pick up a key victory.
Trailing 2-1 through 40 minutes, it took goals by Cole MacKay on the power play and Alex Johnston 13 seconds later to pick up a 4-2 Ontario Hockey League victory over the Steelheads Friday at the GFL Memorial Gardens.
It wasn’t perfect, but it was a game that Greyhounds coach John Dean called “satisfying.”
“We were a little sloppy but it’s maybe one of my more satisfying wins as a coach with this group,” Dean said. “We easily could have gone off script there in the third period and gone a little rogue, which I think we would have done earlier in the season. Credit to our guys for sticking with it.”
The goals by MacKay and Johnston had a calming influence on the Greyhounds bench.
“Given the way that the game was going, we thought we were controlling the play but not doing a great job of getting really solid chances, to get those two quick goals, you see everyone relax a little bit,” Dean said.
Despite the result, Mississauga coach James Richmond saw some positives for a team down two key centres for the game in Keean Washkurak and Cole Schwindt for the game and then losing centre Aidan Prueter in the game due to injury.
“Our guys showed a good effort,” Richmond said. “We had to change to a different system a little bit to try to limit.”
Despite breakdowns on the two Sault goals to put the home team ahead, Richmond said “the effort was there.”
Goaltender Bailey Brkin came up big in the third period as well with key saves on Richard Whittaker and Ty Collins with just over six minutes to go.
The overage netminder finished the night with 18 saves.
Despite not seeing a lot of action in the early stages of the game, Dean spoke of Brkin’s ability to come up with key saves late.
“When he did (see action), especially in that last seven minutes, boy was he ever sharp,” Dean said.
“In the third period, he hadn’t seen much (action) and all of a sudden, he’s got two grade A’s back-to-back,” Dean also said. “I don’t think people realize how difficult that is when you haven’t been tested.”
Rory Kerins and Zack Trott had a goal and an assist each for the Greyhounds in the win. Kerins opened the scoring with five minutes to go in the first period while Trott sealed the win in the final minute with an empty net goal.
Whittaker and William Portokalis completed the scoring for the Steelheads.
Mississauga goaltender Kai Edmonds stopped 33 shots.
The win improves the Greyhounds record to 20-18-2-0 as the team continues to battle for playoff positioning in the OHL’s Western Conference.
Following action on Friday, the Greyhounds moved to within one point of the Flint Firebirds for sixth in the conference.
The Greyhounds return to action on Sunday afternoon at home against the London Knights. Puck drop at the GFL Memorial Gardens is set for 2:07 p.m.
Mississauga falls to 16-22-2-1.
In other action around the OHL on Friday night, in Flint, Damien Giroux had two goals and an assist as the Saginaw spirit beat the Flint Firebirds 7-4. Cole Coskey had a pair of goals for Saginaw. Jack Wismer scored twice for Flint.
In Kingston, Francesco Arcuri had the shootout winner as the Kingston Frontenacs beat the Owen Sound Attack 3-2. Kingston goaltender Ryan Dugas made 35 saves and stopped all three Owen Sound shooters in the shootout.
In Ottawa, three unanswered goals in the third period lifted the Ottawa 67’s to a 9-6 win over the Guelph Storm. Austen Keating and Nikita Okhotyuk had a goal and two assists each for Ottawa while Marco Rossi assisted on four goals. Joseph Garreffa chipped in with a pair of goals for Ottawa. Jacob Roach scored twice for Guelph.
In Sarnia, Ryan Garnier’s goal at 19:22 of the third period was the game-winner as the Oshawa Generals beat the Sarnia Sting 4-3. Philip Tomasino scored twice for Oshawa. Ty Voit had a goal and two assists for Sarnia.
In Sudbury, Quinton Byfield had two goals and three assists as the Sudbury Wolves beat the North Bay Battalion 8-2. Matej Pekar assisted on five goals while Chase Stillman had two goals and an assist for the Wolves. Sudbury goaltender Mitchell Weeks made 34 saves,
In Kitchener, Jonathan Yantsis and Reid Valade had a goal and an assist each as the Kitchener Rangers beat the Niagara IceDogs 5-2.
In London, the London Knights scored three unanswered goals to break a 2-2 tie and beat the Barrie Colts 5-2. Ryan Merkley had two goals and an assist for London. Barrie goaltender Arturs Silovs stopped 47 shots.