Yup, it’s going to do down to the wire and it all boils down to which team has the best relationship with their best friend; Home Ice………..Baby !
With nine games left in the regular season, your Pups find themselves only two points up on the Saginaw Spirit who will square off with the Hounds tonight. By 10 pm, outside of an overtime game, the Hounds will be up either 4 points and have a stranglehold on first place in the division or they will find themselves tied with the Spirit. In that case, the stranglehold will turn into a loose headlock.
Either way, the Hounds have the advantage in my opinion and here is why. With 8 games remaining after tonights early playoff game, the Greyhounds of da Soo eh, have 6 or their remaining games before the faithful at the Memorial Gardens and only 2 on the road.
On the opposite side of the fence, Saginaw will be sleeping in foreign hotel rooms for in 4 of their last 8 games. Now, before you say home ice doesn’t matter and any team can win anywhere on any given night, I will tell you this.
Considering both the Soo and Saginaw are evenly matched, and it would be hard to find anybody that would disagree; statistics do confirm that teams win more games at home and lose more on the road for the most part. The most part being 99.99999999999999999 % of the time. Without citing any individual statistic, I will just leave it up to the reader to prove otherwise. I figure this would be easier.
The reasons behind this valuable asset are the fact of being comfortable. Comfort is sleeping in your own bed, the comfort of hearing the fans cheer you on, the comfort of knowing how the boards react to the puck, and the comfort of not having to be uncomfortable in an enemy bed and walking around on bus legs.
Unless a team is unevenly matched such as a hockey game between the Soo Thunderbirds and the Flint Tropics, Vegas tends to go with statistics and an extra measure for home ice.
Back to the Soo; 5 games have been played this year between the Hounds and Spirit and each one was decided by not only goals but home ice. To date, the Spirit have won all 3 games against us at the Dow Event Centre and the Dogs have returned the favour each time in our own arena going 2 for 2 at the GFL.
Keys to tonight’s game and players to watch tonight for the Spirit are two that were acquired at the trade deadline. Although Dave “Trader” Drinkwall made a bunch of moves at the deadline, the most notable was for Owen Tippett and Ryan McLeod.
For the Soo Greyhounds, the key will be to stay out of the box. Everyone including my Mother knew the Hounds were very undisciplined this past weekend. She literally looked up from her computer as we watched the weekend games and thought the refs were bought after hearing penalty after penalty assessed against the Hounds.
I also thought to myself that something was wrong ……especially the fact that the most consistent player on the team, Jacob LeGuerrier was sitting in the box WAY too many times.
I think the youngen took about 5 penalties on the trip. That is a double whammy….almost like a 4 point game which we will be watching a few over the coming weeks. The last thing you want is one of your best defenceman in the box while killing a penalty. I’m not sure if Jacob was fighting with his girlfriend but something wasn’t right; as we know Jacobs potential. I am not singling out the young gun, I’m just pointing out the uncharacteristic play of him. It’s like Wayne Gretzky getting into two fights in a game and getting the instigator on both lol.
If we do get into penalty trouble it is going to be a dandy as Saginaw is #6 in the league on the PP on the road. The Hounds are #5 on the PK at home so it’s going to be a real chess match.
Anyway, I am sure the Golden Trio have spoken to the boys at length about the importance of composure and discipline and I think we are good to go tonight.