The Greyhounds returned to home ice Friday night at the GFL Memorial Gardens after what many would consider a disappointing road trip. After first losing in Flint to the Firebirds, and giving them just their second win in their twenty one games played through the season, the Hounds also dropped a contest to the Saginaw Spirit.
The effects of losing Mathew Vilalta back on November 4th have been felt, as the Hounds have failed to win a game since losing their starting goalie.
The pressure was still heavily on during the Friday matinee, as the first place team in the Eastern Conference played visitor, the Ottawa 67’s.
The only team in the OHL to find themselves ahead of the Greyhounds, with a record of 17-3-3.
But just like the last two Greyhound home games, an early penalty would halt any sort of momentum they had going. Joe Carrol’s hooking minor would come to haunt them, as Jack Quinn of the 67’s fired off a rocket of a shot, seemingly destined for the twine behind Mario Peccia. The game would be 1-0 Ottawa just three minutes and twenty seconds in.
The game would see the penalty board even out in the first frame as the Greyhounds found themselves on the man advantage after a careless cross check was dealt by the 67’s Sasha Chmelevski.
Unfortunately, the Greyhounds failed to capitalize after spending a far portion of the game in the offensive end.
At first glance, these penalties seemed harmless (well, aside from a goal), but the game saw itself become much more chippy. Multiple scrums ensue infront of the netminders after the whistle blows, but nothing would come of them.
The Hounds would lead the shot total 8-5 heading into the second, but not the game itself.
Captain Barret Hayton wasn’t a fan of the stat above this line, so he took it upon himself to change it.
Hayton would get helpers on his goal from both Keeghan Howdeshell and goalie Mario Puccia on his ninth of the year, to tie the contest up at one a piece, just 53 seconds into the period.
But as quickly as goals happen for the good guys, the luck swings back in the other direction. A tripping penalty to defenceman Jacob LeGuerrier would be the second powerplay the 67’s would score on. After a mad scramble infront of the net had sticks banging away, the puck took a funny jump up over the heads of every one on the ice, and when it landed, found it’s way past Puccia and behind the goal line.
A deflating goal makes for a 2-1 lead for the bad guys. The goal would mark Jack Quinn’s second point of the night, as he was the primary assist on Sam Bitten’s third of the season, the secondary assist going to Kevin Bahl.
Bitten took a bite of the Hounds, but the team wanted a bigger piece. For Hounds fans, that’s unfortunately what Ottawa got.
Noel Hoefenmayer pots his third on the season, with Kody Clark and Sasha Chmelevski picking up the helpers. The 3-1 goal would be enough for coach Dean to make the decision in pulling Mario Puccia, in favour of Ethan Taylor.
To give an analogy on how this helped the Hounds, it would be like stopping the Niagara Falls with a dish sponge.
Taylor would give up goals to Kody Clark, Noel Hoefenmayer and Tye Felhaber in a total of 2 minutes and 8 seconds. The score would sit at 6-1 with half a game still to play. For some added salt on the wound, the 67’s were being outshot 12-11 at this point.
The score wouldn’t change heading into the third. The game at this point looks out of reach, but if it wasn’t for moments that suspend belief, then there would be no sports. Everyone’s fingers in the building better have been crossed, as they Hounds need all the luck they can get.
Well, someone in the stands didn’t have theirs crossed, as Bitten scores his second of the game and fourth of the season to increase the Ottawa lead to 7-1.
With the Greyhounds with the lead in shots at 23-19, the 67’s would continue their onslaught. Matthew Maggio would absolutely undress the Hounds defender, going between his legs three times with quick dekes, and his floater on net would find it’s way past Ethan Taylor. Unassisted, Maggio makes this an 8-1 game.
Jordan Sambrook would try and make the game a bit more respectable, as he found the twine with help from Ryan Roth and Brett Jacklin. The game would sit now at 8-2, and would remain that way for a final score.
The end of this game highlights their major concern, and that’s between the pipes. Since Vilalta went down with an injury, the Hounds have failed to pick up a win in three contests. While it may only be a third of the way through the season the Hounds are quickly being caught up by the rest of the teams in the Western Conference, and will need to play with the same confidence they do in front of number 31.
The Hounds will try again when they lace up against the 6th best team in the west, the Saginaw Spirit. The game will take place Sunday, November 18th, with puck drop set for 2:07 PM.