Fast start and Allard’s hat trick carry Hounds to victory
by Peter Ruicci (Independent Media) | Photo by Bob Davies
How good were the Soo Greyhounds for 30 minutes on Wednesday?
Well, it was as if someone plugged them in and threw a switch.
“That was probably the best 30 minutes we’ve played all season,” said defenceman Andrew Gibson, whose club led the Sudbury Wolves 5-0 midway through the second period. “We were all over them.”
Unfortunately, the plug got pulled shortly after that.
Still, the home team held on to defeat the Wolves 7-4 before 3,190 at GFL Memorial Gardens.
“The second half of the game tells me we’re not prepared to do the things we have to do,” said head coach John Dean, whose club surrendered a pair of short-handed goals in the final period as the Wolves trimmed their deficit to 6-4. “Clearly, we’re still immature as a group when we go ahead like that. Individual needs got put above the team needs.”
Captain Bryce McConnell-Barker used the word “sloppy” to describe his team’s performance over the second half of the contest.
“We were cheating for offence and not playing the way we know how to play,” he added.
Sparked by Owen Allard’s first career hat trick, including two goals on the power play, the Hounds were able to carry a 6-2 lead into the final frame.
“We fell apart,” Gibson said of the way his club coughed and sputtered the rest of the way. “We got away from our game.”
In fact, the Hounds didn’t nail down the victory until Justin Cloutier’s empty-net tally at 19:34 of the final period. That improved their record to 13-7-0-0 heading into a Friday home clash with North Bay.
Sudbury fell to 10-7-1-0.
After using the words “fantastic” and “elite” to describe his team’s play early in the game, Dean noted how “there’s clearly a formula that works for our team. But we have to do it for 60 minutes.”
Allard opened the scoring just 1:27 in. With the Hounds skating with the man advantage, Arttu Karki made a slick feed from the right-wing boards. Allard converted, quickly beating Jakub Vondras high to the blocker side from the top of the left circle.
At 19:22, Kirill Kudryavtsev fired from the right-wing circle and Allard deposited the rebound on the backhand. A second straight power-play marker made it 2-0.
Early in the second, Marco Mignosa beat Vondras on the stick side to make it 3-zip at 1:34.
Just 2:05 later, Gibson’s quick shot from the blue-line beat Vondras, who appeared to be screened.
That made it 4-0 and the Wolves switched goalies, bringing in Nate Krawchuk.
McConnell-Barker, on the power-play, made it 5-0 before the period was nine minutes old.
Karki and Kudryavtsev, who was a standout, had three assists each while Jack Beck helped set up a pair. Mignosa finished with a goal and an assist.
The hat trick for Allard gives him 11 goals on the season. However, he was cut by a stick to the face at the 7:50 mark of the final frame, went to Sault Area Hospital and was unavailable for comment.
Dean said he doesn’t believe the injury is serious.
Evan Konyen had two goals for the Wolves, both coming from the slot area, beating Charlie Schenkel on the blocker side.
Dalibor Dvorsky and Nick Yearwood added shorthanded goals for the Wolves, eventually trimming the Hounds lead to two goals with 2:28 left in regulation.
“Our power play in the third period was atrocious,” said Dean.
A series of Soo penalties early in the third period nearly got the Wolves back into the game.
Allard was whistled for holding at 2:03 while Mignosa received a tripping minor 14 seconds later.
Alex Kostov was sent off for tripping at 3:36, but the penalty-killers were solid and Schenkel was impressive.
At one point, he robbed Matt Mania from the slot. Midway through the period, the Soo goalie denied David Goyette with a slick pad save.
“When we needed him, Charlie was great,” Dean noted.
Sudbury head coach Ken MacKenzie lamented his team’s slow start.
“We just weren’t ready from the start. We were undisciplined,” he said.
After losing two of three on their most-recent road trip, the Greyhounds were determined to bounce back against a Sudbury team built to contend for an Eastern Conference title.
“We were very determined tonight. We were very disappointed with how we played in Kitchener,” said Cloutier, whose club outshot the Wolves 31-25.