Looking back at it, the Soo Greyhounds are happy with a lot of aspects of their first game following the Christmas break.
A strong opening period and an ability to rebound from a second period that wasn’t as good as they wanted were two major positives following a 4-2 loss on Friday night against the Saginaw Spirit at the GFL Memorial Gardens in Ontario Hockey League action.
“Our guys deserved a better fate,” said Greyhounds Coach John Dean.
The team carried the play in the opening period and after Saginaw pushed in the middle frame, the Greyhounds came back with a strong final period.
“Our first period was fantastic,” Dean said. “In the second period, Saginaw played a really good period and we got away from what we did well in the first, which was being really dogged on the puck. In the third, we played another really good period.”
“Credit to our guys, we didn’t have a great second period and they responded in the third,” Dean also said. “Our second period wasn’t awful, but it wasn’t where we wanted it to be. We rebounded in the third period.
For the Spirit, Friday’s win was a big one as the team looked to maintain pace with the Greyhounds in the OHL’s West Division.
“Anytime you can come into this building against this team and find a way to win, it’s a positive,” said Saginaw Coach Chris Lazary.
“In the first period, we were good but we had a little bit of a holiday hangover with our hands and our feet at times,” Lazary said. “As the game went on, both teams settled in and if you’re a fan of hockey, that was a fun one to watch.”
“We’re two teams that seem destined to meet at some point in the playoffs and if that’s the type of hockey we’re in for, it’s going to be fun to be a part of,” Lazary also said.
The win pulls Saginaw to within five points of the Greyhounds in the division with a 19-11-2-2 record and 42 points.
The loss drops the Greyhounds record to 21-9-4-1 as the team prepares to return to action on Saturday night with a home game against the Sudbury Wolves.
“We have a very competitive group,” Dean said. “After looking at game tape, we’ll show them some of the positive stuff they did, and they’ll realize that they played a pretty good game.”
Cole MacKay and Joe Carroll scored for the Greyhounds.
Veteran goaltender Matthew Villalta made 20 saves.
Aidan Prueter had a goal and two assists to pace the Spirit offensively. Duncan Penman added a goal and an assist.
Cole Coskey and Blade Jenkins also scored while goaltender Ivan Prosvetov stopped 24 shots.
“We battled hard and we’re playing for each other,” Lazary said. “Our group is in a good spot. We just need to keep finding ways to win games and keep finding ways to get better every day. If we do that, as the season goes on, good things are going to happen.”
Earlier in the day Friday, the Greyhounds announced the signing of Kalvyn Watson.
After being drafted in the fifth round of the 2018 OHL Priority Selection in April, Watson started the season with the Lindsay Muskies of the Ontario Junior League. In 35 games with the Muskies, Watson scored seven goals and 24 points.
The team also announced Friday that forward Dominic Mufarreh has been assigned to the Honeybaked U16 team in Detroit.
Mufarreh played in nine games this season with the Greyhounds, scoring two goals and three points.
The 16-year-old has played in four games with Honeybaked.
In other action around the league on Friday night, in Ottawa, Tye Felhaber had a goal and an assist as the Ottawa 67’s beat the Niagara IceDogs 4-1. Cedrick Andree made 30 saves for Ottawa.
In Mississauga, Serron Noel had a goal and three assists as the Oshawa Generals scored six unanswered goals in a 6-2 win over the Mississauga Steelheads. Allan McShane chipped in with a pair of goals.
In Flint, Kyle Maksimovich had three goals and an assist while Chad Yetman added a goal and three assists as the Erie Otters beat the Flint Firebirds 9-2. Maxim Golod had two goals and two assists for Erie.
In Kingston, Ryan Cranford had a goal and two assists as the Kingston Frontenacs beat the Peterborough Petes 6-1.
In Sarnia, a four-goal third period lifted the Sarnia Sting to a 7-3 win over the Owen Sound Attack. Jacob Perreault had two goals and two assists for Sarnia. Ryan McGregor added a goal and three assists.
In Sudbury, Harrison Caines had a pair of goals as the North Bay Battalion beat the Sudbury Wolves 5-3. Christian Propp made 30 saves for North Bay.
In London, Paul Cotter had two goals and two assists as the London Knights beat the Windsor Spitfires 8-6. Josh Nelson added two goals and an assist for the Knights. Cole Purboo had two goals and an assist for Windsor.
In Guelph, Liam Hawel had a pair of goals as the Guelph Storm beat the Hamilton Bulldogs 5-3. Anthony Popovich made 37 saves for the Storm.
In Kitchener, Luke Richardson stopped all 26 shots he faced as the Kitchener Rangers blanked the Barrie Colts 2-0. Nick McHugh’s power play goal in the second period was the eventual game-winner.
As the league got back into action on Friday night, the Christmas trade freeze was lifted earlier in the day and saw a handful of deals completed.
Among the deals, the Barrie Colts dealt veteran defenceman Joey Keane to the London Knights for Dalton Duhart, a second round pick in 2020 (originally Oshawa’s). a conditional second round pick in 2024 and a conditional third round pick in 2023.
Other deals on Friday saw the Sudbury Wolves deal goaltender Marshall Frappier to the Kingston Frontenacs for a sixth round pick in 2020; the North Bay Battalion sent Adam McMaster to the Owen Sound Attack in exchange for Mitchell Russell and the Frontenacs acquired Adrien Beraldo from the Peterborough Petes for a 10th round pick in 2021.