Inconsistencies hurt the Soo Greyhounds in the opening game of a stretch of four-straight games on the road
Complete efforts have become a concern for the Soo Greyhounds.
In some cases, the team has been able to overcome the lack of 60-minute efforts to pick up a win, as was the case last week in a home-ice victory over the Sudbury Wolves.
That wasn’t the case on Thursday night in the opening game of a three-game road trip.
The Greyhounds surrendered a lead in the third period of a 3-2 overtime loss to the Erie Otters Thursday at Erie Insurance Arena in a game that saw the visitors outshoot the home side 21-5 in a second period where it appeared they were taking over the game in the second half of the frame.
Ultimately, that wasn’t the case.
“We had our foot off the gas there and we didn’t play a full sixty minutes,” said veteran forward Marco Mignosa of the third period.
“It’s a choice on this group. We have to believe in what we’re told to do,” Mignosa said. “It’s proved that it’s worked before in other games that if we stick to our structure for sixty minutes, we should be way more well off than we are.”
Mignosa agreed that “there were shifts on and off that were off script” and that most of them came in the final period.
Greyhounds coach John Dean said the difference in the third period came down to the Greyhounds being passive.
“And while playing passive, trying to force plays,” Dean said. “When you try to force plays and you’re playing with speed, usually good things still happen. You force pucks with your speed into good spots.”
Dean added that playing a passive game when trying to force plays “it never works out.”
“Too many guys standing still and not enough speed,” Dean added.
Greyhounds forward Bryce McConnell-Barker said he felt the team “probably played 20 minutes of hockey.”
Dean also talked about the inconsistencies of the game for the Greyhounds.
“(In the first period) the power play goes out, it’s super structured and (they) do an absolutely fantastic job (and) score a goal. Next time out, completely out of structure,” Dean said. “In the second period, we start off very slow and have an absolutely dominant last twelve or thirteen minutes. Mostly in our forecheck and mostly in our O-zone possession time and managing the puck well. There’s a clear formula there and we deviate from it in the third period.”
As the road trip continues on Friday night, McConnell-Barker spoke of the Greyhounds need to play a complete game.
“That’s what the story is with our team,” the Greyhounds captain said. “We’ve done it this year. We’ve proven that we can do it. We have a really good team here and we’ve proven that we can play a full sixty minutes and we’ve proven we’re one of the best teams in the league. We just need to find our swagger and play a full sixty minutes. If we do that, we’ll win more than we lose.”
The Greyhounds got on the board first midway through the opening period when McConnell-Barker beat Erie goaltender Ben Gaudreau high glove side with a backhand from the slot on the power play.
Erie tied the game at one just over six minutes later when Spencer Sova tried to make a pass from the right circle into the slot, but it was partially blocked. Sova jumped on the rebound and beat Greyhounds starter Charlie Schenkel as the Sault netminder was getting back into position.
The Greyhounds took a 2-1 lead in the second period when Mignosa jumped on a turnover by Ondrej Molnar and beat Gaudreau high short side at 11:24.
Erie got the game back on even terms at 6:35 of the third when Malcolm Spence jumped on a loose puck near the Greyhounds blueline and beat Schenkel on a backhand in alone to tie the game at two.
Erie wasted little time getting the game-winner in the extra frame as Sova picked up his second of the night in the opening minute of the overtime period. Erie broke down the ice on an odd-man rush that saw Sova go to the net and redirect a pass from Spence past Schenkel to give the Otters the win.
Schenkel stopped 30 shots for the Greyhounds.
“Charlie was good tonight,” Dean said. “He gave us an opportunity to win. They only scored two goals (in regulation time) and the third one in overtime. If our team can’t score three, especially with the chances we had. If he only lets in two in regulation, I’ll take that all day.”
In addition to the two-goal night from Sova, Spence had a goal and an assist while Carey Terrance had a pair of helpers for the Otters.
Gaudreau made 39 saves in the victory.
The road trip continues for the Greyhounds on Friday night as the team travels to Brantford to take on the Bulldogs before wrapping up the weekend with a later-afternoon contest in Mississauga against the Steelheads on Sunday.
The four-game stretch on the road wraps up Wednesday night in Saginaw before the team returns home to play four of their next five games at the GFL Memorial Gardens.
With the loss, the Greyhounds fall to 13-7-2-0 heading into Friday’s game in Brantford.
Erie moves to 10-9-3-0 with Thursday’s win.