The Sault Greyhounds were in a bit of a slump prior to this week, as bad habits were starting to bite them. Teams around the O seemed to somewhat contain the Hounds scoring and it was hurting them. However, they have seemed to find their game once again as they are now on a three game winning streak.
With the most recent winning streak in mind let’s take a look at what the Greyhounds are doing to get winning once again.
Goaltending & defense
In the last 3 games the Hounds have played they have only allowed 4 goals against inducing one shutout. Let’s take a closer look at the shutout win.
The Greyhounds won that game over the Sarnia Sting 2-0. Our Hounds did a great job at limiting the Stings shots, only allowing 20 shots on their netminder, Samuel Ivanov. The Hounds were able to keep most of the pressure away from their own end, this is the best way for this team to play, even when they are holding onto a lead.
When tested though, Ivanov made key saves when needed to get his first shutout in his OHL career. He really battled to get to some cross crease plays and didn’t let traffic in-front of him affect his ability to make saves.
When we look at the other two wins for the Greyhounds we see they kept up that style of play. In the 7-2 win over the Guelph Storm, the Storm only managed to get 24 shots on net, scoring twice.
The 7-2 Win over the Saginaw Spirit was the same story. Saginaw managed to get 16 shots on net. When the Hounds limit the opposing teams shot totals they seem to have a much easier time of winning.
This also helps them when they are shorthanded. In the last 3 games the Greyhounds have only let in one goal while down a man, killing 90% of their penalties. All of these factors defensively have made a big difference in getting on this winning streak.
Controlling the faceoff dot
To a non-hockey fan, the faceoff can be a very boring play. However, the faceoff dot can make or break a team trying to get a big win. In the last 3 wins for the Greyhounds they have won the faceoff battles. This helps the Hounds control the puck and get their setups going right away. This can help the Hounds get big goals or get out of their own end, making it hard for opposing teams to score.
In the 2-0 win on November 28th, the Hounds won 51% of the draws. In the 7-2 win on December 3rd the Hounds won just over 70% of the faceoffs, and last but not least on December 5th, the Hounds won roughly 54% of the faceoffs.
The Hounds have been a so-so faceoff team this year and you can tell that the team is working on getting better in this area. This is a big step to improving as a team and is another reason why the Hounds have been getting some much needed wins.
Shooting the puck
Something the Greyhounds have been doing before they even faced other teams this year has been shooting the puck. They are not looking to score cute goals, they just want to put the puck on the net and try to create scoring chances.
In the last three games the Hounds have out-shot the opposing teams 76-57 with the 7-2 win over the Storm being the biggest shot differential as they out-shot them 43-24. When the Hounds are shooting at a high rate they seem to also score at a high rate.
On this mini winning streak the Hounds have outscored their opponents 16-4, with 12 of those goals being at even strength. This is showing me that the Hounds are controlling a lot of the 5 on 5 play.
The teams power-play is also really clicking as it has been all season. In the last 3 games they have scored 4 goals on 12 power-plays, scoring around 33% of the time while up a man. This, along with their strong play offensively 5 on 5, is making this team hard to beat.
Winning streak summary
When you look at these three key areas it’s really easy to see how this Greyhound team has been able to string together a little winning streak. When your team can score at a high rate, limit their opponent to under 30 shots and control the faceoff dot they are a tough team to face. This can and will help the Greyhounds keep winning and make it very hard for any team to beat them.
Like any team in the OHL, or any team in any sport for that matter, the Greyhounds still need to keep working on getting better. However, the last three games are most definitely a step in the right direction.
The Hounds will look to extend this winning streak to four as they get ready to battle the North Bay Battalion in North Bay, on Thursday night at 7:00 P.M