Whether or not it’s going to be a learning experience.
That’s what the positive will be for the Soo Greyhounds after a disappointing 3-2 overtime loss to the North Bay Battalion on Sunday afternoon in Ontario Hockey League action at the GFL Memorial Gardens.
Overage forward Justin Brazeau beat Greyhounds defenceman Jordan Sambrook in the slot and lifted a backhand high stick side on goaltender Ethan Taylor to give the Battalion the victory.
For the Greyhounds, the early part of the regular season has been an adjustment at times.
“It’s going to be a process to help the players understand what style of hockey we’re trying to play here,” Greyhounds Coach John Dean said. “The one positive from this is the guys take an early lesson from this. I’d rather do it now (in October).”
On Sunday, Dean cited a lack of urgency as an issue in the loss.
“We lacked urgency,” Dean said. “We had a team that was playing three games in less than two and a half days. We had an opportunity to pounce on them by playing good solid puck-management hockey. We chose not to and that was the result.”
“At times we got outworked but that wasn’t the overwhelming issue,” Dean also said. “Turnovers and our inability to make good decisions with the puck (were an issue). We always want to make plays but that doesn’t mean we try to make plays that aren’t there. We forced the issue.”
Battalion Assistant Coach Scott Wray, who is handling the coaching duties in the absence of Stan Butler due to illness, credited the play of Brazeau early on in the season for North Bay.
“He’s been an impact guy all year,” Wray said. “People are just finally starting to notice him. He’s a big man that has silky-smooth hands. He can do anything with the puck.”
“You can ask anybody in the room, we see (Brazeau’s skill) on a weekly basis,” Wray also said.
Making his first start on home ice, Taylor made 23 saves for the Greyhounds.
“Ethan was good,” Dean said. “We put him in some tough spots. Anytime you put a kid like that in front of the hometown crowd, you want to make sure you manage the puck properly and we didn’t in front of him.”
Barrett Hayton and Ryan Roth scored for the Greyhounds.
Christian Purboo was solid for North Bay, making 32 saves, which included stopping Greyhounds forward Cole MacKay in a flurry in overtime.
“He was fantastic tonight,” Wray said. “He made some big saves early and in overtime.”
Brad Chenier and Adam McMaster also scored for the Battalion.
“We’re proud of our effort tonight,” Wray said. “We showed that we play with anybody in the league when we work for it. What we’re trying to build here is our work ethic. We got some great goaltending early and the guys stuck with it.”
The loss drops the Greyhounds record to 5-3-2-0 while North Bay improves to 4-6-0-0.
The Greyhounds continue a six-game homestand on Wednesday night against the Saginaw Spirit. Puck drop is 7:07 p.m. at the GFL Memorial Gardens.
In other action around the league on Sunday, in Guelph, Nate Schnarr scored on the power play 21 seconds into overtime to give the Guelph Storm a 3-2 win over the London Knights. Ryan Merkley had a goal and two assists for Guelph. Liam Foudy had both goals for London.
In Kingston, Michael DiPietro made 38 saves as the Windsor Spitfires beat the Kingston Frontenacs 5-2. Cole Purboo and Jean-Luc Foudy had a pair of assists each for Windsor. Brett Neumann and Jason Robertson had a goal and an assist each for Kingston.
In Ottawa, Tye Felhaber had two goals and an assist as the Ottawa 67’s beat the Erie Otters 5-3. Austen Keating assisted on three goals for Ottawa, Kyle Maksimovich had a pair of goals for Erie.
In Sarnia, Cole Carter had three goals as the Mississauga Steelheads beat the Sarnia Sting 6-2. Mississauga scored four times in the opening period in the victory.
In Sudbury, Oliver Castleman had two goals and an assist as the Niagara IceDogs beat the Sudbury Wolves 5-1.
Two other games were on the OHL schedule on Sunday including the Kitchener Rangers in Saginaw to take on the Spirit and the Hamilton Bulldogs in Oshawa to take on the Generals. Both were evening starts and not complete at the time of writing.