December 17, 2012 - Ontario Hockey League (OHL) - Soo Greyhounds
MICHAEL SCHUMACHER notched a three-point night on Sunday, and overtime wouldn't be needed as the Hounds would head into the Christmas break following a 4-1 win over the Windsor Spitfires.
"I think there is no question that was our best and most complete effort. I don't want to say it was perfect by any means but perfect is pretty hard to attain but that is what we aspire to do" began Hounds Head Coach Sheldon Keefe.
"There were some things we weren't pleased with but overall the guys stuck with the plan all the way through it, didn't give up a lot in terms of chances against, the powerplay responded the way we wanted, all fours lines contributed, all six defenceman were a part of things today and thats what we're trying to do. And it was nice to finish things off that way (prior to the Christmas break).
Entering the game the Hounds were tied with the Windsor Spitfires with 34 points respectively in the West Division standings.
Eighteen seconds into the Hounds first powerplay of the game NICK COUSINS skated the puck into the Windsor zone before dishing a pass off to BRANDON ALDERSON who found MICHAEL SCHUMACHER for a low drive that beat Jaroslav Pavelka for his 11th goal of the year and a 1-0 Greyhound lead.
After killing off their first shorthanded situation, the Hounds found themselves on even terms when Josh Ho-Sang made the pass from MATT MURRAY'S right to left, and Brady Vail evened the game at one.
DYLAN STAPLES would re-direct a TYLER GANLY point shot later in the period, but was unable to pull the Hounds ahead.
But with less than four minutes to play in the period, in what appeared to be a feed through the slot, JARED MCCANN notched his 13th goal of the year after a puck went off a Windsor defender for a 2-1 Greyhound lead after twenty minutes. SCHUMACHER and RYAN SPROUL picked up the assists.
Team Captain COLIN MILLER nearly made it a two goal cushion 55 seconds into the second period when he stepped into a shot from the right point only to ring it off the post to Pavelka's right.
From there the Hounds limited Windsor to just one shot against in the opening eight minutes of the period as they continued to build momentum.
NICK COUSINS made it 3-1 Hounds when he head-butted the puck from the left of the Windsor goal for his 15th of the season. SCHUMACHER notched an assists, his 3rd point of the night.
A Spitfires rush shorthanded would be foiled by DARNELL NURSE and a late period breakaway saw the hustle of JARED MCCANN highlighted while MURRAY one of his 19 saves on the night to push the two-goal lead through two periods of play.
When asked about his team's hustle and defensive zone play, Keefe responded positively.
"Right from Day 1 that's the #1 thing we tried to address was making it more difficult to enter our zone and try to earn the puck back as quickly as we can when we don't have it. The guys are starting to get that. I felt we were coming on all week, each day it was getting better and better not just through games but in practice and when watching video we were starting to get it. It was nice to see them put it together tonight. Hopefully it gives us some confidence and building blocks in return."
Just over a minute into the third period BRANDON ALDERSON slid a pass to DAVID BROLL in the centre of the circle in Windsor territory, and the Maple Leafs prospect fired a quick shot for his 11th goal of the year and a 4-1 lead.
TYLER GAUDET, playing in his 2nd game of the Hounds looked to notch his first OHL tally later in the period but a diving Pavelka would deny him of the opportunity to hold the score.
Then DARNELL NURSE rung a shot off the post on the Hounds powerplay and the lead remained at three.
Some rough stuff resulted in over 60 minutes of penalties over the final six minutes of the game but Keefe simply attributed it to a heated rivalry.
"Thats a rival. It's a division rival, there's a lot at stake in this game and you just see who competitive things are. That's usually a bi-product of two teams that are battling hard. I think they felt we were in control of the game and they were trying to changes things up a little bit but our guys for the most part handled themselves well."
Sunday's victory gives the Hounds a perfect week, and three-game winning streak heading into a thirteen day layoff over the holidays.
The Hounds record moves above the .500 mark to 17-16-2-0 and sole possession of 3rd in the division.
The locals return to Essar Centre ice on Saturday, December 29th when they play host to the Niagara IceDogs. Game time is 7:07 p.m. at the Essar Centre.
DICKIE'S HARDEST WORKING HOUND
#19 Jared McCann
RED STAR THREE STARS
1 - Michael Schumacher, SSM
2- Jared McCann, SSM
3 - Nick Cousins, SSM
NOTABLE QUOTE FROM HEAD COACH SHELDON KEEFE in reference to the team building from the energy created inside the Essar Centre;
"In my short time here I have learned that they are very knowledgeable hockey fans. A lot of times when they are critical it's because they know what they aren't seeing on the ice is a players best and that things can improve. And at the same time they are recognizing the changes, they're rewarding players effort by responding and the expectation is that the players effort will be there and hopefully the confidence from the fan will continue to grow as well."