"We can't keep chasing leads."
That's the message as the Soo Greyhounds turned a 5-2 deficit into a 7-5 victory over the Guelph Storm in Ontario Hockey League action at the Essar Centre on Friday night.
The Storm opened up a 3-0 lead after scoring three times in 1:26 in the opening period and led 3-1 through 20 minutes as Quinn Hanna, James McEwan and Garrett McFadden paced the Storm to the early lead, chasing Greyhounds starter Joseph Raaymakers from the game.
“The first period wasn’t pretty,” Greyhounds Coach Drew Bannister said, calling the frame “below average.”
Raaymakers made just a pair of saves on five shots.
“It’s tough for a coach to see a goalie that wants to do well for his team struggle,” Bannister said.
Bannister said he feels for Raaymakers, who has struggled recently.
“He’s a great kid who is struggling with his game right now,” Bannister said. “We’ve got to be able to support him and try to get him back to where he needs to be.”
Matthew Villalta came in and stopped 20 shots the rest of the way for the Greyhounds.
“(Coming in cold) is a little easier because it happened so quickly for Matthew because it was quickly after warmup,” Bannister said.
The line of Boris Katchouk, Blake Speers and Jack Kopacka paced the Greyhounds offensive attack. Katchouk finished the night with a goal and two assists while Speers had a pair of goals. Kopacka chipped in with a goal and an assist.
“They were outstanding the whole game,” Bannister said of the trio.
Colton White also had a goal and an assist for the Greyhounds. Barrett Hayton and Zach Senyshyn had the other goals for the Greyhounds. Defenceman Conor Timmins assisted on three goals while former Storm defenceman Noah Carroll added a pair of assists for the Greyhounds.
McEwan paced the Storm offensively with a pair of goals. McFadden and Matt Hotchkiss chipped in with a goal and an assist each. Former Greyhound Liam Hawel picked up a pair of assists.
“We played very well for 40 minutes,” said Storm Coach Jarrod Skalde. “We did a good in containing (the Greyhounds) speed most of the night but they turned it up in the third and we couldn’t hold them.”
The game was a return home for Storm defenceman Nolan Makkonen as the Sault product was playing his first game in Sault Ste. Marie after signing with the Storm early in the new year.
“He competes hard,” Skalde said. “He’s an honest player and he’s been working since he got here. I’ll be excited to see him next year once he’s got this half-year under his belt.”
The Greyhounds improve to 37-13-2-1 with the victory while Guelph falls to 18-28-3-2.
The homestand continues for the Greyhounds on Saturday night against the Flint Firebirds. Puck drop at the Essar Centre is set for 7:07 p.m.
For the Storm, the team will enjoy an off-day on Saturday before wrapping up weekend action on Sunday in Flint.
In Kingston, Tyler Burnie had a pair of goals while Brett Neumann chipped in with a goal and an assist as the Kingston Frontenacs beat the Sudbury Wolves 4-1. Jason Robertson had the other goal for the Frontenacs. Defenceman Stephen Desrocher assisted on two Kingston goals. Sudbury goaltender MacKenzie Savard made 36 saves. Alan Lyszczarczyk had the lone goal for the Wolves.
In Kitchener, Cliff Pu and Dante Salituro had two goals each as the London Knights beat the Kitchener Rangers 5-2. Alex Formenton also scored for the Knights. Robert Thomas assisted on a pair of Knights goals. Joseph Garreffa had a goal and an assist for Kitchener. Darby Llewellyn also scored for the Rangers.
In Mississauga, Will Bitten’s shootout goal was the difference as the Hamilton Bulldogs beat the Mississauga Steelheads 4-3. Matthew Strome had a goal and an assist in regulation time for the Bulldogs. Marian Studenic and Niki Petti also scored. Matt Luff assisted on a pair of Hamilton goals. Spencer Watson had two goals and an assist to pace Mississauga offensively. Trent Fox added a goal and an assist. Michael McLeod assisted on a pair of Steelheads goals.
In St. Catharines, Aidan Brown had the shootout winner as the Barrie Colts beat the Niagara IceDogs 3-2. Barrie goaltender Christian Propp made 36 saves and stopped all 11 shooters he faced in the shootout. Stephen Dhillon made 43 stops for Niagara and stopped 10 of 11 in the shootout. Roy Radke had a goal and an assist in regulation time for Barrie. Jason Willms had the other Colts goal. Johnny Corneil and Oliver Castleman scored for Niagara.
In Sarnia, Renars Krastenbergs, Domenic Commisso, Kenny Huether and Medric Mercier had a goal and an assist each as the Oshawa Generals beat the Sarnia Sting 5-3. Eric Henderson had the other Oshawa goal. Jack Studnicka and Mason Kohn added a pair of assists each. Drake Rymsha and Jordan Kyrou had a goal and two assists each for the Sting. Adam Ruzicka had the other Sarnia goal.