It’s not surprising that the opening two games were as close as they were.
After Conor Timmins scored in the final seconds of game one to give the Soo Greyhounds a win, a pair of late goals by Boris Katchouk would turn into the difference as the Greyhounds beat the Kitchener Rangers 4-2, taking a 2-0 lead in their Western Conference final series in the process.
With just over 12 minutes to go in the third period, Katchouk deflected a Jordan Sambrook point shot past Mario Culina to give the Greyhounds a 2-1 lead at the time before adding an empty net goal shorthanded with 1:12 to go.
“We created a good bounce, (Taylor Raddysh) walked out of the corner and had his head up and fed it to Sam,” Katchouk said of his first goal. “All I wanted to do was show my stick for him.”
Katchouk also picked up an assist in the win while Raddysh also had three points with a goal and two assists. Morgan Frost had the other goal. Barrett Hayton assisted on a pair of goals
Matthew Villalta made 34 saves for the Greyhounds, who battled back in a game that saw the Rangers come out strong in the opening period and take the play to the home team.
“Kitchener carried the play in the first period and our guys responded really well with a really good push back in the second and the third,” said Greyhounds Coach Drew Bannister.
“We did what we had to do to win,” Bannister added.
Bannister would say that, first period aside, the Greyhounds were “much better” than they were in game one on Friday.
Overage forward Hayden Verbeek left the game in the opening period and Bannister said following the game Verbeek was at the hospital but didn’t have any further information regarding his injury.
Bannister also said that veteran defenceman Anthony DeMeo, who left game one, is in the midst of completing the OHL’s concussion protocol
Logan Stanley and Adam Mascherin had a goal and an assist each for the Rangers. Goaltender Mario Culina made 28 saves.
“Both teams controlled the play at times,” said Kitchener Coach Jay McKee.
“If you’re not detailed and taking care of every shift and doing the right things, they’re going to score,” McKee also said. “We made a couple of big mistakes that led to goals. We lost coverage and you can’t do that against a team like the Sault.”
Down 2-0, the Rangers are in familiar territory after falling behind after two games in each of their previous two series.
“It’s important to go through adversity and face those experiences,” McKee said. “We’ll definitely draw off that.”
The series now shifts to Kitchener for games three and four. Both 7 p.m. starts, game three is set for Monday night with game four following on Wednesday. If necessary, game five is Friday night back at the Essar Centre.
In the Eastern Conference final, the Hamilton Bulldogs will take a 2-0 series lead into game three on Sunday night in Kingston.
On Friday, the OHL announced that Barrie Colts forward Andrei Svechnikov was named rookie of the year after scoring 40 goals and 72 points in 44 games this season.
The OHL all-rookie teams included Greyhounds defenceman Rasmus Sandin.
OHL All-Rookie Teams
- Centre: Cam Hillis, Guelph
- Left Wing: Blade Jenkins, Saginaw
- Right Wing: Andrei Svechnikov, Barrie
- Defence: Rasmus Sandin, Sault Ste. Marie
- Defence: Alec Regula, London
- Goaltender: Mack Guzda, Owen Sound
- Centre: Ryan Suzuki, Barrie
- Left Wing: Maxim Golod, Erie
- Right Wing: Arthur Kaliyev, Hamilton
- Defence: Mitchell Brewer, Oshawa
- Defence: Nico Gross, Oshawa
- Goaltender: Jordan Kooy, London