December 15, 2012 - Ontario Hockey League (OHL) - Soo Greyhounds
SAULT STE. MARIE, ON - The Soo Greyhounds marked the midway point of the OHL season on Friday Night with their fifth meeting of the year against the Saginaw Spirit. With a 3-0-1-0 record head-to-head, the Hounds were looking to pad their hold on the 4th seed in the division and 8th in the conference as the teams were separated by just two points in the standings.
Defenseman RYAN SPROUL would return the team's blueline after being one of the final cuts late Thursday from Team Canada's WJHC Selection camp, while TYLER GAUDET made his Hounds debut after being recalled from the Pembroke Lumber Kings of the CCHL.
MATT MURRAY, making his 22nd start of the year was tested just 3:13 into the first period when Vincent Trocheck found Eric Locke for a redirection and the early stop that would set the tone for the Hounds netminder.
On their first Lock City Dairie's powerplay of the game NICK COUSINS took sole possession of the team scoring lead converting on a give-and-go with MICHAEL SCHUMACHER. With Schumacher parked below the line to Nikita Serebryakov's left, he found Cousins in the slot for his 13th goal of the year and a 1-0 Greyhound lead.
MURRAY kept the one-goal lead in tact with 11:05 to go with a glove stop on Trocheck who entered the game with 22 goals on the season to lead Saginaw.
Pressing for more the Hounds trio of SERGEY TOLCHINSKY, SCHUMACHER and JARED MCCANN were denied with just over four minutes to go and the Hounds held the one-goal cushion through twenty minutes.
After DAVID BROLL and NICK COUSINS paired for a chance less than two minutes in the the second, MURRAY again kept pace with his Spirit counterpart. After Garret Ross' wraparound was turned aside, the rebound found Bradon Lindberg who faired no better.
Outshooting Saginaw by a slim 11-9 margin in the period, the Hounds kept the 1-0 lead after two periods of play.
Killing off a 24-second Spirit powerplay to the start the third period, the Hounds would eventually go flawless and 5-for-5 on the penalty kill for the night.
Locke, Andrey Alexeev, Ross and Trocheck had chances to tie the game in the early to mid stages of the third period, but were on the end of some of MURRAY's 33 saes of the night.
While skating 4-on-4, Nick Moutrey evened the score with 6:01 to play letting an innocent looking shot from the left wing go, that beat Murray and a tie game.
With a slim 2-second two man advantage and ensuing powerplay in the final three minutes, Head Coach Sheldon Keefe called a Hounds timeout but the team failed to capitalize.
The Hounds would end the third period shorthanded and with a 1-1 tie, be forced to overtime for the 9th time this season.
Starting overtime 4-on3, Saginaw produced a quick opportunity when Ross was sent in on a breakaway only to be stopped by MURRAY.
While still shorthanded, COUSINS and SCHUMACHER broke in on a odd-man rush. And with the puck coming off the end boards to Serebryakov's right, COUSINS roofed the puck high past the Spirit netminder for the team's second straight overtime victory.
With the win the Hounds extended their lead over Saginaw to three points, and pulled even with the Windsor Spitfires while going to 16-16-2-0 on the year, good for 34 points.
The locals will round-out their current homestead with their final game before the holiday break this coming Sunday, December 16 vs the Spitfires. Game time is 7:07 p.m. at the Essar Centre.
Don't miss the action and grab your tickets at the Essar Centre Box Office (10 a.m. to 2 p.m. Saturday, or starting at 10 a.m. Sunday), online at www.essarcentre.ca or by phone at 1.866.775.9422.