Sault Ste Marie’s own Cole MacKay’s first goal of the playoffs may have been an empty netter, but it would be the icing on the cake for the Hounds series win over the Owen Sound Attack. The Hounds took this one 7-4.
After dropping game, the Hounds went on to win their fourth straight and now are set up to face the Saginaw Spirit in round two of the OHL Playoffs.
Coming into this one, games 3 and 4 in Owen Sound went exactly to plan setting up the Hounds to eliminate Owen Sound in front of a home crowd.
A pair of 5-2 wins on the road with the powerplay firing on all cylinders was a needed breath of life after the Greyhounds abysmal effort from the special teams during the first two games.
Early on in this on to the chagrin of the attack, Groulx’s injury would take him out of action. Jordan Sambrook laid a textbook body check into the Attack forward and he wouldn’t get up. The trainer would come out and help Groulx to his feet before he would skate off grimacing in pain, slamming his stick against the glass before heading down the tunnel.
The Hounds would take a bench minor for too many men half way through the first frame, giving the 11th ranked penalty kill a chance to improve their 75% success rate. That would not come to fruition as the Attack would streak in, snapping a shot that Villalta just failed to get all of, sneaking in to take an early lead. Adam Dudas would notch his second of the series with an assist to McMaster.
It would only be another two and a half minutes until a giveaway in the defensive end would have the puck end up right on the stick of Howdeshell. Leading the Hounds during the regular season in goals, he knew what to do going roof on Guzda. The game would reset at one a piece.
The Greyhounds would fail to capitalize on the powerplay that would carry over to the second, but would not struggle getting things going long after. Groulx would also return to the ice for the Attack.
Wale would pinch in the offensive end to keep the puck alive before blasting one on net that would be typed in by the impressive Czech rookie Pytlik.
Just over half a minute later, O’Rourke would throw a puck on the net followed by both Peca and Johnston who would crash the net and bang away until the puck went across the goal line. Chalk up Johnston’s third of the series and the Hounds now have a two goal lead.
Zach Poirier would restore the one goal lead as he would bury one past Vilalta just over a minute after the Hounds previous goal. The game would return to a one goal differential.
With only 11 seconds remaining the second frame, Dudas would manage his second of the night with an absolute bullet past Villalta’s glove side. The crowd would be completely silenced as their team would enter the third tied.
Things would not get better in the third as 6 minutes in the Attack would take the lead off of a rush play. Jamming away at it was Groulx who’s return would prove huge.
Then the GFL Memorial Gardens was as loud as it has been all season.
First Ryan Roth would sneak one in between the pads of Guzda roughly two minutes after the Attack goal. Then just mere seconds after, Kartye would be left alone in front to tuck the puck past the outstretched netminder to regain the lead at 5-4. The near packed ouse erupted as the Hounds took the lead in the elimination game.
The game would fail to finish without some last minute theatrics, as Roth would sit in the box for two for a tripping minor, putting back out the penalty killing unit that was 2/3 in this game.
The Hounds would manage to kill it off with another 2:17 left on the board, Attack net empty. Cole MacKay would be off to the races, finalizing the series win for his hometown Hounds. This one would end 7-4 as Howdeshell would add an empty netter himself.
The Hounds will now move on to face their bitter rivals from the regular season, the Saginaw Spirit. The Spirit and Hounds tied in points during the regular season, but the Spirit edged the Hounds in head to head games (4-2) to earn themselves home ice advantage.