Even though the Boys came up a few games short of going to the Memorial Cup, they gave us our $$monies worth and more. We witnessed future NHL’ers in the development stages and witnessed some mistakes and some brilliant plays. Two exception goals even got us nationwide coverage and a “HIGH 5” from Soo Greyhounds fan Don Cherry. 😝
These kids dominated the league from the second game of the season and ended up with a team-best record of 116 points while amassing 55 wins with only 13 losses under Bench Boss and Coach of the Year Drew Bannister. The Hounds also cruised through most of the season on top of the CHL Rankings as the number 1 junior team in the country. Matt Villalta had another stellar year and Rasmus Sandin and Barrett Hayton excelled and will go very early in the draft. Boris Katchouk and Conor Timmins made us proud by representing the Hounds at the World Junior Championships.
The playoffs as everyone knows is a different beast. Some teams buckle under the pressure and some teams excel with passion where skill is less of an option. We saw the Greyhounds battle for every win they got and didn’t seem to be able to dominate as they did during the regular season. Injuries sure didn’t help, as Team nucleus Haydon Verbeek was absent for many of the games post season.
Was there turmoil and discipline problems off the ice? Like I said, there were many indications of this being a problem during the season and post. Many I hope will have learned from this If in fact, the rumors were true.
In September we will have a different look of kids and quite likely a new coach behind the bench. Coach Bannister has yet to sign an extension with the Hounds as his current contract has expired. I wouldn’t be surprised to see Drew move on to bigger and better challenges. He will be sought out and no doubt is fielding through many offers. If he goes, who will replace him? There is a long list of candidates so until word comes down, I won’t even go into that list.
Kyle Raftis did his job from his scouting and not only managed to get Taylor Raddysh and Jordan Sambrook at the trade deadline, but he gambled and won on stealing Rasmus Sandin from the Swedish elite league. Although Rasmus was only “on loan”, to the Hounds for the season, as he is still under contract with “Rogle”, I can’t see him playing anywhere but North America this September. I believe he could very well return to the Hounds. It would make no sense in developing him to play the NHL style and throw him back on a larger ice surface.
So there you have it in a nutshell; a great season and only two wins shy of going to the dance. They gave it their best and we salute you, boys. Afterall, we need to focus as adults that these are just kids.
We should be very competitive this coming season with returning players (hopefully) such as Villalta, Hayton, Frost, Jacklin, Joe Carroll etc.
Until Training Camp,
Go Hounds Go and thanks for reading all year !!
Ernest Skinner Jr.