MacKay’s first OHL Hat Trick Lifts Hounds over Knights

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The Hounds returned to the ice just hours after their scary win over the second in the east Niagara Ice Dogs on Saturday night, and their competition did not get an easier. The Hounds played host to the first in the Western Conference London Knights. Former Greyhound Joseph Raaymakers got the start for the London Knights who has been having an excellent season as one of the leagues best keepers.

The Hounds got off to an almost identical start as their Saturday night matinee. Frost trucked the puck into the zone, threw it on target and Pytlick banged home the first of the game just 21 seconds into the contest. An almost carbon copy goal to have the good guys chalk up the first of the afternoon.

The pace was high intensity for the entire duration of the first period with the momentum swinging in favour of both teams at various points, but the latter half of the first period would be highlighted by the heart of Barrett Hayton on the penalty kill. Blocking a blistering bullet from the blue line, he hobbled his way to continuing the shift and eventually ended up going down the tunnel for further evaluation. A few quality saves from Matty Villalta, and three shots off the posts, the Hounds would remain in front 1-0.

The second period started with two sighs of relief from the Hounds faithful. Firstly, some relief was had when captain Hayton returned to the bench at the start of the period, as everyone knows just how important he is to the team. The second came just 28 seconds into the period as the Knights had scored a beautiful tipped in goal, or did they? The refs immediately waved it off due to a high stick. They would converge with one another and agree that it was not a legal tip. The hockey gods were looking down on the Hounds in this contest on multiple occasion.

Hayton’s return would prove important as he had the primary assist on Soo native Cole MacKay’s 20th of the season, to make it a 2-0 game less than 5 minutes into the period.

With as much talent as the Knights have, it’s hard to keep them off the board. Adam Boqvist, 8th overall pick in the 2018 NHL draft would manage to bury his
14th on the season and return the game to a one goal differential.

Hayton and MacKay would connect once more, this time on the powerplay as Hayton waited, waited, waited, and then made a perfect pass cross-crease to have the Hounds up with a two goal advantage once more. After this goal, things got chippy. Not one Hound celebrated as the two teams went at it, roughhousing and using some choice words. It ended up with a powerplay for the Hounds, they did not convert on it, but the momentum went in the right direction.

MacKay was hot this game, as he fluttered another shot on net that had just enough of a screen to fool Raaymakers and he notched his hat trick, and celebrated from the seat of his pants as he was upended just as the shot was let off. 4-1 game. The Knights would manage to put one up on the board before the buzzer sounded, making it a two goal game once more.

The third would be the slowest paced of the three periods, but the rough part of the game continued. Penalties handed out left and right, and the game even saw a 10 minute misconduct called on Alex Formenton.

Frost would score an absolutely filthy goal on the breakaway, having Raaymakers move 3 different directions before tucking the goal away five hole. Then things got a bit unnerving. A penalty to the Hounds right after the Knights scored to make it a 5-3 game was important to kill off with less than 5 remaining. The Knights pulled their goalie to have the 6-4 that almost proved costly. A strong forecheck leading to Hayton drawing a call and the Hounds going to the powerplay. Hayton would score to make the game 6-3 and ultimately out of reach of the best team in the conference.

Games like this will instill hope into fans and players alike, as this is a statement win.

The Hounds and Knights have one last meeting before the playoffs begin, taking place on March 15th, at the GFL Memorial Gardens. The Hounds next game will have them in North Bay taking on the Battalion on Valentine’s day Thursday.

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