A pair of big saves in overtime turned into the difference for the Soo Greyhounds.
Matthew Villalta made pad saves on Adam Ruzicka and Jordan Kyrou in overtime as the Greyhounds picked up a key 6-5 shootout victory over the Sarnia Sting Friday night at the Essar Centre.
With 1:21 to go in the extra period, Villalta went cross-crease to stop Ruzicka with his left pad. Just over 20 seconds later, Villalta would make a right pad stop on Kyrou with the game on the line.
“They were timely saves,” Villalta said. “I needed to make them and found a way to do it.”
I got a good push on (the Ruzicka chance) and it hit the toe of my skate and the other one, it was the same type of play, so I just did the same thing and got my pad out,” Villalta also said.
Villalta proceeded to stop both players in the shootout to help seal the Greyhounds victory.
“They’ve got a lot of skill,” Villalta said of the pair. “I knew they were going to have some slick hands. I tried to stay patient and let them make the first move.”
In addition to a pair of goals and an assist in regulation time, Jack Kopacka had the shootout winner for the Greyhounds. Overage forward Hayden Verbeek assisted on four goals and Taylor Raddysh added a pair of assists. Tim Gettinger chipped in with a goal and an assist while Mac Hollowell and Morgan Frost also scored.
Villalta finished the night with 37 saves.
“Some of the goals, Matty didn’t have a chance to stop them,” Bannister said. “He couldn’t see them. There were too many guys in front of him.”
“He was outstanding in overtime and the shootout,” Bannister also said.
Bannister called the game “a good win.”
“Guys had to dig deep,” Bannister added.
The Greyhounds injury situation is beginning to clear up as well.
Barrett Hayton, Jacob LeGuerrier, Conor Timmins and Keeghan Howdeshell all missed the game due to injuries but Bannister said there is a possibility of the four returning to the lineup next weekend on the road.
“I can probably guarantee that three of the four guys that are out will be in the lineup next weekend and maybe all four,” Bannister said.
Drake Rymsha scored twice for the Sting, who fall to 42-16-4-0. Cam Dineen chipped in with a goal and an assist. Franco Sproviero and Mitch Elliot also scored. Kyrou and Jordan Ernst picked up a pair of assists each.
“It was a heck of a hockey game,” said Sarnia Coach Derian Hatcher, who was pleased with the ability of his team to battle back in the game.
“We kept coming,” Hatcher said. “That’s what I really liked. Our compete-level was high and that’s a really good step for us.”
Sarnia goaltender Aidan Hughes made 32 saves.
“After the first goal, it was a weak goal, but he battled back and played well,” Hatcher said.
The Greyhounds, 51-6-2-2, wrap up the weekend with a home game on Sunday afternoon against the Windsor Spitfires. Puck drop at the Essar Centre is 2:07 p.m.
In other action around the league on Friday night, in Kingston, Jordan Kooy make 25 saves as the London Knights blanked the Kingston Frontenacs 3-0. Liam Foudy scored a pair of goals for London.
In Mississauga, Christian Propp made 35 saves as the North Bay Battalion beat the Mississauga Steelheads 2-1. Adam Thilander had the game-winning goal for the Battalion.
In St. Catharines, Ryan Suzuki had two goals and an assist as the Barrie Colts beat the Niagara IceDogs 7-2. Dmitry Sokolov chipped in with a goal and two assists while Zachary Magwood added three assists for the Colts.
In Guelph, Jalen Smereck scored 35 seconds into overtime to give the Flint Firebirds a 6-5 win over the Guelph Storm. Ty Dellandrea and Maurizio Colella had a goal and two assists each for Flint. Isaac Ratcliffe had three goals for the Storm.
In Hamilton, Robert Thomas set up three goals as the Hamilton Bulldogs beat the Ottawa 67’s 3-1. Cedrick Andree made 39 saves for Ottawa.
In Kitchener, Domenico Commisso scored the game-winner as the Oshawa Generals scored three unanswered goals in a 3-2 win over the Kitchener Rangers.