A sluggish start costly for the Greyhounds in dropping a 4-2 decision to the Battalion

Soo Greyhounds forward Marco Mignosa collides with North Bay Battalion winger Josh Currie during Ontario Hockey League action at the GFL Memorial Gardens on Friday night. After winning 8-5 over the Battalion on Friday night, the Greyhounds drop a 4-2 decision to the Battalion 24 hours later at the downtown rink. Gordon Anderson/Postmedia Network

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The robust start needed to beat a desperate hockey club wasn’t on display at the downtown rink.

On the strength of three-first period goals, the North Bay Battalion picked up a 4-2 win over the Soo Greyhounds in Ontario Hockey League action at the GFL Memorial Gardens on Saturday night.

Greyhounds head coach John Dean said his team wasn’t ready to put in the effort needed to beat a team in a back-to-back scenario heading into this Saturday night special.

“I saw a team that underestimated our opponent and maybe thought, with the number we put up last night, things like that come easy,” Dean told the Sault Star in reference to Friday night’s 8-5 win over the Battalion. “Our group works very hard for what we get and for whatever reason we forgot about that tonight. We didn’t look crisp at all and we looked nonchalant with our entries.”

“I thought the first period definitely needs to be a lot better,” forward Cole MacKay added. “We weren’t connected like we were (on Friday night) and they took advantage of that. They are a good transition team and, like I said, they took advantage of us being all over the place.”

The game winner came at 19:57 of the first period when Ty Nelson’s speculative shot from the right point got past Charlie Schenkel and into the bottom half of the net. The third goal came on the Battalion’s fourth shot of the period.

Schenkel lasted one period of play before he was removed in favour of Samuel Ivanov. Schenkel stopped one of four shots. Ivanov stopped 12 of 13 shots in mop-up duty.

“Charlie, I think will tell you, he wants a couple of those goals back, there’s no doubt about it,” Dean said, while admitting the entire group was partially responsible for the rookie’s removal. “For us, I think the (third goal) was deflating for the group and we wanted to give a little spice for the guys (by bringing in Ivanov).”

The line of Tye Kartye, Rory Kerins and Cole MacKay had a hand in both goals for the Hounds—both on the powerplay–and were the most dominant line for the Greyhounds, creating chances off the rush and via the puck retrieval methodology.

While the team enjoys the luxury in having Kartye, Kerins and MacKay in the top-three when it come to points scored in the OHL, the coach said he’s need more from his other guys, especially when things aren’t going smoothly for the top line.

“We will continue to rely on them but we have to get to a point where we’re not just relying on them,” Dean said. “We’ll continue to use them as a model for everybody else and they’re expected to perform every night.  But other guys have to jump on board.”

MacKay who added an assist on the second goal doesn’t seem to mind being relied on to help lead this team in many facets of the game.

“It starts with us and we didn’t do our job of getting the puck in the back of the net,” MacKay said. “We’re trying to preach a group effort here and we want to lead the way as best as possible and if we don’t do that, it’s tough to win. We take a lot of ownership in that we’ll be a lot better next time.”

The Battalion took a 1-0 lead with their first shot of the night as Brandon Coe ripped a shot from the right face-off circle that went over the right arm of Schenkel at 2:32 of the first period.

The visitors doubled the lead on their third shot of the game as Owen Outwater let a wrist shot go that beat Schenkel over the left arm, before banging off the bar and down over the line.

Kartye brought the Hounds back to within one with a power-play goal at 14:52 of the first period, his shot from the right face-off circle whizzing past Battalion goalie Joe Vrbatic before he could react with the glove.

Vrbatic stopped 31 of 33 shots in 60 minutes of action.

The Battalion took a 3-1 lead with a power-play goal at 19:57, Nelson’s shot getting past Schenkel for the game decider.

Ivanov surrendered a goal on the first shot he faced when Michael Podolioukh took the spoils of an errant shot and buried the puck between Ivanov and the near post at 1:59 of the second period.

The Greyhounds closed out the scoring with 3:42 left in the third on a six-on-four power-play as Kartye took a one-touch pass from MacKay and buried the shot between the legs of Vrbatic from the right face-off circle.

The Kitchener Rangers are in town on Wednesday for a 7:07 p.m. puck drop.