Hayton gets first star in first game back

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After dropping a 6-2 decision to the Ottawa 67’s on Sunday afternoon in Ottawa, the Soo Greyhounds were back on GFL Memorial Gardens ice on Wednesday night as they took on the Flint Firebirds.

Wednesday night’s game also marked the return of forward Barrett Hayton, who was sent back to the Hounds from the National Hockey League’s Arizona Coyotes.

Hayton had a power play goal and two assists in his first game back with the Hounds on Wednesday night, helping them to a 4-1 victory over the Flint Firebirds at the GFL Memorial Gardens.

“It’s good to be back,” said Hayton, who was named first star of the game. “It’s exciting to get back with the guys in the room and it’s a great group. The coaching staff and everything is great. As for the win, it’s huge and it’s great to get our foot in the door for this home stand.”

Hayton, who was selected by the Coyotes in the 1st round (5th overall) this past June, became just the second Soo Greyhound to be drafted fifth overall in the NHL Entry Draft, joining Richard Jackman (1996).

“It was extremely special,” continued Hayton. “It was an unbelievable day. It was great to share that with my family and the people who have been there for me since the start.”

The 18 year old also cracked the Coyotes opening night roster, before being sent back to the Hounds this past Tuesday.

“I learned a ton,” concluded Hayton. “All those guys in the room were unbelievable and really great mentors for me to learn from both on and off the ice. They’re incredible hockey players and they are so successful for a reason.”

Hounds leading scorer Morgan Frost also had a three point night with a goal (empty net) and two helpers while Keeghan Howdeshell and Cole MacKay had a goal each for the red and white.

Jordan Sambrook, Mac Hollowell and Roman Pucek all had one assist each for the Hounds.

Firebirds forward Eric Uba scored his first Ontario Hockey League goal from Ty Dellandrea at the 18:07 mark of the third.

Matthew Villalta made 21 saves for the win while Firebirds overage goaltender Emanuel Vella gave up 3 goals on 40 shots in the loss.

With the win, the Hounds have now improved their record to 4 wins, 3 losses and 1 overtime loss, good for 9 points while the Firebirds record drops to 0 wins and 7 losses.

The Hounds will now get set to take on the Kitchener Rangers this Friday at 7:00 p.m. at the GFL Memorial Gardens.

Friday night’s game will also mark Kitchener’s first visit to the Soo since the Hounds eliminated them in game 7 of the Western Conference Final back on April, 2018.

(Photo credit to James Egan’s Sports Photography)

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Matt Stefano
Matt had graduated from Sault College in the General Arts and Sciences program in 2011 and has been working in the sports field ever since. The Sault Ste. Marie, Ontario native has worked as an Athletics Assistant in the Sault College Athletics Department during his final year of school in 2011. After graduating, Stefano worked for two years at the George Leach Centre from 2011-2013 for the Algoma University Thunderbirds Varsity Basketball Games as an Athletics Assistant. From 2013 on, Stefano has been working as the Soo Thunderbirds communications person and has also been volunteering with Shaw TV Sault Ste. Marie since 2014, doing Soo Thunderbirds TV Segments.