As the Ontario Hockey League deadline approaches on Thursday, the Soo Greyhounds remain focused on hockey and on the night before the deadline, the team was in action and focused on a division rival.
It wasn’t a perfect game, but the Greyhounds skated to a 4-2 win over the Sarnia Sting Wednesday night at the GFL Memorial Gardens as the team continues to battle for top spot in the OHL’s West Division.
Looking to improve on some areas going into weekend action, the Greyhounds play with the puck was a positive in Wednesday’s win.
“I really liked our play with the puck,” said Greyhounds Coach John Dean. “Our play without the puck left a little bit to be desired at times. When it mattered, like in the first 12 or 13 minutes of the third period, we played excellent.”
Dean added that he felt a shorthanded goal by the Sting in the third period “took a little wind out of our sails.”
“We gave them a little bit of an opportunity after that but I’m pretty happy with the third period,” Dean added.
Limiting odd-man rushes will be something the team will look to improve on heading into action on Friday night when the team hosts the Windsor Spitfires.
“The whole team, with the puck, was dynamic,” Dean said. “Without the puck wasn’t terrible but we gave up too many odd-man rushes against.”
Greyhounds goaltender Matthew Villalta made 27 saves against the Sting, which included some key saves as the game remained close throughout.
“If we’re going to play the way we play, our goaltenders are going to see some odd-man rushes and he’s got to make some big saves,” Dean said. “He came through when we needed him as usual.”
Ryan Roth paced the Greyhounds offensively with a pair of goals, giving him 15 on the season and five in his last four games.
“Roth is the hottest player on our team,” Dean said. “He’s doing the little things right which helps him get rewarded when the puck is on his stick. He’s a very smart player and it’s starting to pay off for him.”
Morgan Frost had a goal and an assist while Cole MacKay also scored for the Greyhounds.
The Greyhounds improve to 25-10-4-1 and remain in top spot in the OHL’s West Division, one point ahead of the Saginaw Spirit.
The Spirit, who also won on Wednesday, have gone 11-0-1-0 in their last 12 games.
Brayden Guy scored both goals for the Sting while goaltender Cameron Lamour made 33 saves.
“It was a good effort and we played a pretty good game overall,” Hatcher said. “We got tired in the third period but overall we had a decent effort. We just have to find a way to be on the other side of that.”
“He’s played well the last couple of games,” Hatcher said.
The Sting fall to 18-17-5-2 with the loss.
The Sting played the game minus a pair of key players in veteran Ryan McGregor and rookie Colton Kammerer, both of whom missed Wednesday’s game due to injury.
Hatcher said the timeframe for return for both players wasn’t set, noting that McGregor was hopeful for next weekend.
As the trade deadline approaches on Thursday, a pair of deals were completed around the league on Wednesday afternoon.
The Oshawa Generals dealt Joseph Rupoli to the Kitchener Rangers for a 10th round draft pick while the London Knights send Sergey Popov to the Owen Sound Attack for a sixth round pick in 2022.
The Erie Otters added forward Mathew MacDougall from the Windsor Spitfires late in the day Wednesday. In return, the Spitfires receive a fifth round pick in 2021, a sixth round pick in 2021 (originally belonging to the Greyhounds), and a fourth round pick in 2022.
The trade deadline is set for noon on Thursday.
In other action on Wednesday night, in Owen Sound, Mack Guzda made 35 saves as the Owen Sound Attack beat the Kitchener Rangers 4-3. Brady Lyle had a goal and an assist for Owen Sound. Jonathan Yantsis scored twice for Kitchener.
In Saginaw, Bode Wilde’s power play goal at 3:19 of the third period was the game-winner as the Saginaw Spirit beat the Hamilton Bulldogs 3-1. Nick Donofrio made 36 saves for Hamilton.