The Sault Greyhounds have been on a bit of a roll winning their last three games and they are looking to extend it to four, with a win on Thursday night over the North Bay Battalion. This will be the fourth time these two teams have battled. The Hounds are currently winning the season series, two games to one.
After taking a closer look at the three games these teams have already played vs each other, I have identified three areas that the Hounds will need to focus on to get this win and extend their winning streak to 4 games.
Play with the lead
When we look at the two wins vs North Bay, our Greyhounds got out too early leads, outpacing their competitor after the first period in both wins; scoring a 1-0 lead in the first win and a 3-1 lead in the second win. In the one-loss, North Bay took a 2-1 lead into the second period and never really looked back.
The Greyhounds are not the best defensive team in the OHL so getting an early lead is very important. This helps them keep up the pressure in the O-zone and therefore be less likely to get trapped playing defense. The Greyhounds also seem to play more confidently when they have a lead.
Playing with a lead is always smart in any sport however, I feel it is extra important when playing a skilled team like North Bay.
Get your power-play on the ice
The North Bay Battalion takes the fifth-most penalties in the OHL, taking roughly 12 penalty minutes per game. If the Greyhounds can keep that trend up, this could really help them win this game.
The Hounds have been great all year at scoring while up a man, scoring 32% of the time on the power-play. This has helped the Hounds beat many opponents this season, including North Bay. In all three games vs the Battalion, the power-play has made a huge impact, scoring 4 goals on 10 power-plays.
We know that these two teams don’t like each other and these games are always filled with big hits, tons of board play, and even some fights. These types of games tend to cause a lot of penalties.
If the Hounds can force North Bay to take a lot of penalties while staying disciplined themselves, this will get their power-play on the ice a lot and will help them triumph on Thursday night.
Limit North Bay’s scoring chances
Goaltending has been a question mark this season, and I have to say our starting netminder, Samuel Ivanov, has been playing better than expected. The Hounds have, however, recently picked up a new goaltender to stabilize the back end. Even so, the Hounds will want to help our goaltending out by limiting the Battalion’s scoring opportunities.
When we look at the three games they have played the Hounds kept North Bay to under 20 shots in two out of the three games. We have seen, this year in general, that the Hounds are at their best when they limit opposing teams scoring chances.
The Hounds do this by avoiding playing in their own end, as once again, defense is not the team’s strongest suit. If they can keep the puck in the offensive zone, this will help them limit shots on our netminder.
The Greyhounds have been playing some good hockey of late and they really want to continue their strong play into Thursday night. If the Hounds focus on these three areas I think they have a very good chance of extending their winning streak to four games.
- Play with the lead
- Get their power-play on the ice
- Limit North Bay’s scoring chances
Puck drop is Thursday night at 7 P.M at the North Bay Memorial Gardens in North Bay, Ontario.