After already playing three one-goal games, it’s no surprise that they played another on Friday night.
A strong opening period, one that included three goals in a span of 2:27, helped the Soo Greyhounds to a 4-3 Ontario Hockey League win over the Guelph Storm on Friday at the GFL Memorial Gardens.
The strong opening period wound up being the difference for the Greyhounds.
“I liked the whole 20 minutes,” said Greyhounds Coach John Dean. “Obviously getting the three goals in 2:27 is fun to talk about but our first 20 minutes disciplined and structured. Guys were on point, you could tell that they were dialed into the system.”
For the Storm, a slow start and struggling in the faceoff circle early on made things difficult on the visiting club.
“We weren’t good out of the gate,” said Storm Coach George Burnett. “We didn’t win many faceoffs in the hockey game until probably the last 10 minutes when we started to push. When you don’t start with the puck, you’re chasing a really good team who is one of the best with the puck.”
After carrying the play early on, the game transitioned in the second period with both teams battling for momentum before Guelph pushed in the third in an attempt to battle back.
“The second period, I don’t mind because you’re playing a good team in the Guelph Storm and it’s not going to be a perfect night,” Dean said. “They had some good shifts and we had some good shifts.
“We need to learn to put our foot on the gas when we’re in a situation like that,” Dean also said. “We let them put their foot on the gas and press us and I didn’t love our response but at the end of the day, we found a way to get two points.”
The Greyhounds received a solid effort from veteran netminder Matthew Villalta, who made 29 saves, including 15 in the third period.
Rookie Alex Johnston continued a strong stretch of play with a goal for the Greyhounds on Friday, giving him five on the season.
“This guy’s effort and compete level, the rest of the team feeds off it,” Dean said. “Other teams are starting to hate him. If the other bench is yelling at him and doesn’t like him, it’s probably a good thing because he’s like a dog on a bone.”
“He’s certainly making it really hard for me to think about taking him out of the lineup,” Dean added.
Johnston now has goals in three of his last four games.
Keeghan Howdeshell, Brett Jacklin, and Cole MacKay also scored.
Anthony Popovich got the start for the Storm but was pulled after giving up three goals on 11 shots in the opening period.
Nico Daws stopped 20 shots the rest of the way.
“He did a wonderful job tonight,” Burnett said of Daws. “It was a really nice effort from him. We had to do something to mix it up.”
Cam Hillis, Barret Kirwin and Domenico Commisso completed the scoring for the Storm. Nate Schnarr had a pair of assists.
The final meeting of the regular season between the two clubs, all four games were decided by one goal with Friday’s game being the first decided in regulation time.
“All of the games have been scarily similar,” Burnett said. “Somebody has played 50 minutes ad then the other team pushes for 10. Tonight, we weren’t able to get the job done to push it to overtime.”
The Greyhounds will take a 19-7-4-1 record into action on Sunday against Barrie.
The Storm fall to 14-8-3-3 and return to action on Saturday afternoon in Sudbury against the Wolves.
Greyhounds captain Barrett Hayton missed Friday’s game due to injury.
Dean said Hayton isn’t expected to play on Sunday afternoon when the Greyhounds wrap up the homestand against the Barrie Colts.
Hayton is day-to-day after suffering an injury during a road trip last weekend.
Hayton will be leaving on Monday along with Villalta and Morgan Frost for the Canadian National Junior Team selection camp.
Storm forward Isaac Ratcliffe is also among the players competing in the Canadian camp.
In other games around the league on Friday night, in Erie, four unanswered goals lifted the Erie Otters to a 4-1 win over the Flint Firebirds. Daniel D’Amato had two assists for Erie.
In Mississauga, three goals in the third period were the difference as the Mississauga Steelheads beat the Oshawa Generals 4-2. The Steelheads scored four unanswered goals in the win. Ryan McLeod had a goal and two assists for Mississauga. Oshawa goaltender Kyle Keyser made 35 saves.
In Sarnia, Franco Sproviero had a goal and two assists as the Sarnia Sting beat the Windsor Spitfires 5-1. Sting goaltender Ethan Langevin stopped 31 shots.
In Sudbury, David Levin had a goal and two assists as the Sudbury Wolves beat the Barrie Colts 5-1. Quinton Byfield chipped in with a goal and an assist for Sudbury.
In Gatineau, Que., Tristan Berube stopped 34 shots as the Quebec Major Junior Hockey League’s Gatineau Olympiques beat the Ottawa 67’s 2-1 in inter-league action. Jeffrey Durocher had a goal and an assist for Gatineau.
In Kitchener, Riley Damiani had a goal and two assists as the Kitchener Rangers beat the North Bay Battalion 4-2. Greg Meireles assisted on three goals for the Rangers.
In London, Connor McMichael had two goals and two assists as the London Knights beat the Kingston Frontenacs 8-1. Dalton Duhart, Antonio Stranges, Nathan Dunkley and Adam Boqvist chipped in with a goal and an assist each for London.