The Soo Greyhounds returned to game action on Sunday afternoon, and the result was a learning experience for both veterans and rookies in the lineup.
Holding a 4-3 lead midway through the third period, the Sudbury Wolves scored three times in a span of 1:02 to break the game open en route to an 8-4 Ontario Hockey League exhibition win over the Greyhounds at the GFL Memorial Gardens.
For the Wolves, it was the second time in the contest that the team had scored four consecutive goals.
Greyhounds coach John Dean said the game was a reminder “that nothing is given for free in this game.”
“Some habits got exposed and that’s what happens when you play at this level,” Dean added. “I saw flashes of some really good things and some habits that we’re going to need to break over the course of the next three or four weeks before the regular season starts.”
While it wasn’t one specific issue, Dean said big mistakes were costly at times in allowing the Wolves to take advantage in transition.
“It was competitive habits in terms of tracking back and getting above the puck, making sure we’re protecting inside the dots and not making really big mistakes and shooting yourself in the foot that cost your team games,” Dean said. “A lot of times, the way we played today was a little bit run and gun. We thought we were doing good things and a big mistake in there and they transition the other way for a quick two-on-one or three-on-two. (Sudbury) did a good job of transitioning against us.”
Dean added that the game was “a good opportunity for our young guys to get their feet wet and learn a few lessons about what you can get away with and what you can’t at this level.”
The game was also an opportunity for the Greyhounds veterans who did see action to take some lessons from as well.
“There’s an expectation for our older guys while they’re in the lineup to set a good example,” Dean said. “It was a little bit of an awakening for those guys as well. I thought that they thought they could get away with certain stuff and didn’t set a great example for our younger players.”
After rookie Greyhounds forward Landon Hookey opened the scoring in the late stages of the first period, the Wolves reeled off four goals to take a 4-1 lead in the contest before the Greyhounds got a pair of goals back to cut the lead to one.
“We discussed as a staff (after the game) that we don’t want any illusions that we were playing well,” Dean said. “I know we were battling back and scrapping through to make that game a little tighter, but the truth is, we were making mistakes the entire game and they just happened to capitalize at those particular moments. For us, it’s more of we got what we deserved and it’s an opportunity for us to teach a lesson.”
In addition to Hookey’s goal, rookies Marco Mignosa, Justin Cloutier, and Jordan D’Intino also scored for the Greyhounds. Kalvyn Watson and Connor Toms assisted on a pair of goals each.
Charlie Shenkel got the start for the Greyhounds and stopped six of the 10 shots he faced before making way for Samuel Ivanov midway through the second period.
Ivanov stopped 21 of 25 shots in the second half of the game.
For the Wolves, Giordano Biondi, Ethan Larmand, Quentin Musty, Jack Thompson, Kocha Delic, and Ryan Smith had a goal and an assist each.
David Goyette and Evan Konyen also scored.
Sudbury goaltender Mitchell Weeks stopped 43 shots.
With the Greyhounds not set to play another exhibition game until Sept. 25, also at the GFL Memorial Gardens against Sudbury, the practice time for the team will focus on a number of things with the regular season set to open in just over a month.
“We’ll focus on system implementation over the next two to three weeks,” Dean said. “We’ll look for a lot of opportunities to have competitive practices, inter-squad games, and controlled scrimmages. We’ll put our players in a lot of those types of situations where we can record and analyze.”
Despite the loss, Dean said one positive was being able to be back in the rink for a game day.
“It was nice to be back at the hockey rink,” Dean said. “It was nice to be playing a hockey game and preparing and going through the routine of being a hockey coach again. I’m sure it’s the same feeling for the players. A little bit of butterflies and an opportunity to do what they enjoy and love again. That’s a big takeaway for me.”