The battle of the top two teams in the OHL’s western conference took place Friday night, where the (11-3-3) first place Hounds played host to the (9-4-2) second place Guelph Storm.
If the previous Hounds game was a telltale sign as to what their offence is capable of, then expectations would be high before the matinee. That game saw 8 different goal scorers for the boys in red and white as they beat the Flint Firebirds 9-3 Halloween Night.
The game started off in a sour note, as just a mere 42 seconds in to the first period, the Greyhounds found themselves down a man as Morgan Frost took the first of his teams many penalties in the opening frame.
Frost’s was costly.
As with 42 seconds left on the power play, former Greyhound Liam Hawel beat Matthew Villalta clean, glove side to put the Storm up 1-0 only two minutes in. Hawel notched his eighth on the season.
More penalty trouble throughout the period killed most of the momentum, and even though it was while even strength, the hounds struggled to get their feet underneath them as they went down 2-0 off of Owen Lalonde’s second of the season, with just over eight minutes remaining in the frame.
A couple of quality chances did come short handed as shown by Hayton’s smooth dance past the power play defenders, but not able to muster up enough power behind the shot to bury it. The game remained with Guelph up by a pair heading into the second.
The second period started with multiple quality chances for the storm, both a three on zip and a breakaway were turned aside by number 31.
Chances back and forth eventually led to Keegan Stevenson widening the lead even further for the visitors as his goal wit 8:47 left in the second would put his team up 3-0.
But for a team that leads the leagues in goals scored, you know the hounds are never out of it with half a game left. Enter Mac Hollowell.
The 4th round pick of the leafs walks into the zone on a seemingly harmless play, but his shot rips past two defenders and Popovich’s blocker side to cut the lead down to two with 5:56 left in the second period.
The Hounds, with what appear to have fresh legs underneath them after the momentum swing off the goal, keep the pressure up. A hard forecheck behind the net started by Hollowell ended up with him cross checking one of the Guelph defenders down to the ice quite viciously, and the Storm would not stand for it.
Zach Porier of the Storm takes exception and takes Hollowell down to the ice, prompting Keegan Howdeshell to get involved. Gloves drop to the ice as Poirier and Howdeshell both exchange some decent shots before the refs would make their penalty calls.
With Howdeshell taking an instigating and ten minute major, on top of the cross checking minor from Hollowell, the hounds found themselves once again down a man. “We want a ref” chants rang out during the duration of the next play, as the Hounds faithful shared their displeasure with the upcoming power play.
Nevertheless, the hounds would kill it off and would leave the second down still, by a score of 3-1
With little to note in the early happenings of the third, it would leave the dramatics to the final ten minutes to play.
Now, 10:45 remains in the third, as the hounds go up for the entire two minutes of a 5 on 3. Guelph takes an initial infraction as the Hounds buzzed in the offensive zone, followed by another trip once the extra attacker was out for the Greyhounds, with Villalta parked on the bench. With almost the full two minutes following spent in the offensive end, the good guys did not manage to find their way past Popovich, but kept their foot on the accelerator.
5:33 was left on the clock when the hounds would find a way to cut the led in half. Ryan Roth scores his second in as many nights as captain Barret Hayton would dish him a beautiful saucer pass on a platter, testing Popovich’s lateral movement. Not good enough as the rookie would make the net bulge and he game would now show a score of 3-2, with the Hounds sniffing out another.
Unable to get one of the duration of the next three minutes, take a timeout to catch their breath and check once more with the coaching staff on their game plan.
And boy was it a good one.
With 39.6 seconds left in the game the Greyhounds manage to tie the game up and force extra time, as a mad scramble in front led to the hounds dashing in and Keegan Howdeshell coming back from his lengthy penalty to play hero. Assists on the goal were given to Saulite Cole MacKay and Morgan Frost.
From there, they only needed 48 seconds.
With 4:12 remaining in the over time period, Keegan Howdeshell once again pulls out magic from his stick and not only forced extra game, but also ended it, as his goal was the last Friday night, with the final score of 4-3 for the Greyhounds being the official for score of the 18th game of the season.
Final shots of the game were 29 -22 for the Hounds.
Next up is the Sunday afternoon home game at the GFL Memorial Gardens where the Hounds take on the Erie Otters. Puck drop is scheduled for 2:07 p.m.