It was hard to wipe the smile off Ryan Roth’s face on Wednesday night and for good reason.
The sophomore forward had a career night as the Soo Greyhounds skated to a 7-2 Ontario Hockey League win over the Flint Firebirds Wednesday at the GFL Memorial Gardens.
Roth had a pair of power play goals and finished the night with three goals and two assists to lead the Greyhounds to victory.
“It feels great,” Roth said. “I have to give credit to my teammates. They’re great guys and they made some great plays to me and I was fortunate enough to put them in the net.”
“I’m really happy for him,” said Greyhounds Coach John Dean. “He gets the short end of the stick a little bit on special teams because the big unit gets the big minutes and the second unit doesn’t get as much.”
“When he gets his opportunities, to see him score like he did tonight, it was exciting for me,” Dean added.
The Greyhounds scored three times on the power play in six attempts and the team has scored at least once on the man advantage in nine of its last 10 games and sits fourth in the league, converting at a rate of 25.2 per cent.
“We’re putting pucks on net, we’ve got a good net-front screen and they’re starting to go in for us,” Roth said of the power play proficiency.
The Greyhounds also scored shorthanded goal for the fourth consecutive game.
“(The penalty kill) is doing a great job and giving us confidence every time we go out on the ice,” Roth said.
Jordan Sambrook had the shorthanded marker for the locals midway through the second period and Dean spoke of the success both the power play and penalty kill have had this season.
“Jamie Tardif has done an unbelievable job with the power play and it’s nice to see our second unit score a bunch of goals too,” Dean said. “Jordan Smith’s penalty kill, they just keep scoring goals.”
“With special teams, at the end of the day you just want momentum,” Dean also said. “We’re getting momentum in a big way by scoring goals on both.”
Sambrook finished the night with a goal and two assists. Morgan Frost added one of each. Mac Hollowell and Jacob LeGuerrier had the other goals for the Greyhounds. LeGuerrier’s goal was the first of his OHL career.
Keeghan Howdeshell assisted on three goals while rookie blueliner Ryan O’Rourke assisted on a pair of goals.
Goaltender Matthew Villalta stopped 19 shots.
“I really liked our first period because it was disciplined and structured,” Dean said. “In the second period, we got away from our game a little bit but credit to the guys for getting our heads on straight for the third period. The third period was fantastic.”
Jake Durham and Eric Uba scored for Flint.
“The Sault is a high-end team and they showed their true colours today,” said Flint Coach Eric Wellwood. “They out-matched us. We didn’t show up in the first period and they took advantage of that. We had a good push-back in the second and I was really pleased with that effort. That’s the stuff we’re going to build from.”
Goaltender Emanuel Vella stopped 37 shots.
“We left him out to dry,” Wellwood said. “He did his part.”
Hit with a rash of injuries this season, Flint played Wednesday’s game with 17 skaters.
The team remains without forward Connor Roberts, and defencemen Dennis Busby and Marcus Gretz due to various injuries.
Wellwood said he expects Busby to return to the lineup after Christmas. Gretz is done for the season while Wellwood said Roberts is potentially done for the season as well.
With the win, the Greyhounds will take an 18-7-4-1 record into action on Friday night at home against the Guelph Storm. Puck drop at the GFL Memorial Gardens is set for 7:07 p.m.
Flint falls to 3-25-2-0.
In league news on Wednesday, Greyhounds forward Cole MacKay was named the West Division academic player of the month for November.
The Sault native has an average above 90 per cent while taking Grade 12 classes at St. Mary’s.
In other league news, it’s been a busy stretch on the trade front.
The major deal recently went down on Tuesday as the Windsor Spitfires dealt veteran goaltender Michael DiPietro to the Ottawa 67’s.
The 67’s acquired DiPietro along with a fourth round pick in 2020 and a second round pick in 2024 (originally Kingston’s) from Windsor in exchange for import pick Egor Afanasyev, a second round pick in 2019, a second round pick in 2021 (originally London’s), a second round pick in 2022, a second round pick in 2023, a conditional second round pick in 2021 and conditional third round picks in 2021 and 2022.
The conditions on the three picks are if Afanasyev reports to Windsor, the three picks would be returned to Ottawa.
Afanasyev is currently playing with the United States Hockey League’s Muskegon Lumberjacks and has 11 goals and 26 points in 19 games. He also has a verbal commitment to play college hockey at Michigan State University beginning next fall.
With a spot for a goaltender open, the Spitfires proceeded to acquire 19-year-old Colton Incze from the Niagara IceDogs later in the day Tuesday. In exchange for Incze, the Spitfires sent a second round pick in 2022 to Niagara.
On Wednesday, the North Bay Battalion sent overage defenceman Cole Cameron to the Kitchener Rangers in exchange for an eighth round pick in 2022.