January 13, 2013 - Ontario Hockey League (OHL) - Soo Greyhounds
Since mid-November the Soo Greyhounds have put together one of the best winning percentages in the entire Western Conference, the only other team to set a more torrid pace was the London Knights.
And on Sunday evening, the Hounds were determined to send a message to anyone would listen, when they hosted the best team in the OHL while looking to extend a home-ice winning streak at the Essar Centre ice and they would have to do it minus star forward SERGEY TOLCHINSKY.
Tolchinsky, would be a scratch prior to the game with what is being described as an upper body injury by GM Kyle Dubas.
MATT MURRAY would start his 34th game of the year for the Hounds, while the Knights would counter with Sault Ste. Marie product Jake Patterson.
Needing a better start than what they had 24 hours prior, the Hounds limited the Knights to a single shot through the opening eight minutes of the first period including the the start of a London man advantage.
While shorthanded, NICK COUSINS send a pass to NICK HALAGIAN would break in on a 2-on-1 with defenceman COLIN MILLER. While streaking up the right wing HALAGIAN's first shot deflected off the stick of a Knights defenceman right back to him where he would fire home his 5th goal of the year and a 1-0 Greyhound lead.
The Hounds killed off the second and final London powerplay just over a minute later before taking their first powerplay of the game.
On the advantage MILLER took the puck to the middle of the ice just inside the Knights blueline before firing a high shot past Patteson and a 2-0 lead.
With less than six minutes to play in the period, DYLAN STAPLES played the puck back to TYLER GAUDET who rung a shot off the post while looking to pad the Hounds offense leaving the Hounds ahead by a pair after twenty minutes.
A RYAN SPROUL point shot early in the second snuck through the pads of Patterson and sat there but was cleared out of harms way to keep the score standing.
From there London skated in and an odd man rush, and despite the Hounds charging back into their zone the Knights went from the left to right of MURRAY before Alex Broadhurst fired home a goal and cut the lead to 2-1.
The Knights looked to pull even when Olli Maatta broke in alone with less than fourteen to play in the period but was turned aside by the Hounds netminder in one of his 26 saves on the night.
NICK COUSINS and MICHAEL SCHUMACHER paced two good chances with Paterson out of position but were unable to strengthen the Hounds grip on the lead any further.
After TYLER GAUDET, NICK HALAGIAN and DYLAN STAPLES created some tense moments for the Knights in their end the momentum carried over to the Hounds striking for an increased lead.
With 5:53 to play SCHUMACHER took a hit at the London line before passing to ANDREW FRITSCH who skated in and passed over to JARED MCCANN at the backdoor, and the Hounds forward notched 14th of the season for a 3-1 Greyhound lead.
MATT MURRAY robbed Bo Horvat in the final minute to keep the lead through forty minutes of play.
In the third the Essar Centre faithful were met by another quick start as the Hounds set the tone early of the third and just seconds into the period.
Then with over five minutes gone, Chris Tierney broke around the Hounds defence but his attempt to beat MURRAY five hole proved unrewarding.
The two teams skated through to the final two minutes with the 3-1 lead standing before London would pull Patterson for the extra attacker.
After a London time out, and with puck possession inside the Hounds zone, the locals failed to clear and a flurry in front ended with Tyler Ferry's 4th goal of the year with 1:41 to play in regulation to cut the lead to a single goal.
Patterson was called to the bench when play started again, and with 24 seconds to go, NICK COUSINS played the puck to BRANDON ALDERSON who skated inside the Knights blueline before ensuring an empty net goal enroute to a 4-2 Greyhound victory.
The win marked the Hounds 8th in a row at home, while improving their record to 23-18-2-1 on the year and cap off a perfect three game homestead.
The locals now prepare for a quick two-game roadtrip that will take the Hounds into Saginaw, Michigan this coming Friday Night - January 19th against the Spirit.
Game time at the Dow Event Center is set for 7:07 p.m. while fans can follow all the action on Rock 101 beginning at 6:40 p.m. with the Bay Mills Resort & Casinos pre-game show.