Roller-coaster season continues with Hounds victory

PETER RUICCI With Rob Calisti (left) looking to move Oshawa captain Kyle MacLean away from the net, Soo Greyhounds goaltender Bailey Brkin readies himself for a point shot on Saturday at GFL Memorial Gardens. The Hounds won their third straight, beating the Generals 3-1. jpg, SM

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They won four straight for a perfect start to the OHL season.

But that was followed by a stretch of 13 losses in 15 games — including a seven-game losing streak.

Now they’ve won three in a row, including Saturday’s 3-1 victory over the powerful Oshawa Generals before 4,234 at GFL Memorial Gardens.

Constant exposure to the 2019-2020 Soo Greyhounds is apparently this city’s leading cause of whiplash.

“I can’t explain it. I’ve never been through anything like this,” Hounds head coach John Dean said of his team’s up-and-down-and-up-again season. “It’s a unique situation.”

The line of Jaromir Pytlik between wingers Tye Kartye and Zack Trott was dominant against the Generals, who were ranked No. 2 in the country in the Canadian Hockey League’s Top-10 before weekend action.

Both Kartye and Pytlik had a goal and an assist, while Trott notched a beautiful assist on Kartye’s goal and made his presence felt all over the ice.

“That was our best 60 minutes of the year, by far, against a really-good hockey club,” said Dean, whose team held the Gens to just 23 shots while improving to 9-12-1-0.

The Hounds, who begin a three-game trip on Thursday in Windsor, sent 24 shots at Oshawa goalie Zachary Paputsakis.

“Considering the turmoil we’ve been through, it’s our most-satisfying win of the season,” the Soo coach added.

“We played a full 60 minutes and that’s probably the first time all season,” said Kartye, who has eight points over his last three games.

In a noisy dressing room, Kartye, who opened the scoring at 13:17 of the opening period, spoke of how good the victory feels.

“They’re a very-good team,” he said of the Generals. “But we are, too.”

Pytlik talked about how hard the Hounds worked from beginning to end.

“We did everything Deaner told us to do,” he said of the game plan set out by the head coach. “That’s the best game overall we’ve played in a long time.”

While protecting a one-goal lead, defenceman Rob Calisti made a slick feed to Pytlik, who redirected the puck past Paputsakis at 19:49 of the second period.

However, the Hounds saw their 2-0 lead cut in half just 1:56 into the third period.

A turnover in the Soo zone allowed Brett Harrison to beat netminder Bailey Brkin, drawing the visitors to within 2-1.

But instead of letting that goal affect them, the Hounds responded 39 seconds later.

From the left face-off circle, defenceman Billy Constantinou fired a shot past Paputsakis low to the glove side, restoring the Soo’s two-goal cushion.

“After they scored, I was really proud of our bench,” Dean said of the moments following Harrison’s goal. “I went pretty quiet. But the guys on the bench picked each other up in a really positive way, and Constantinou goes down and rips a beautiful goal.”

Dean harkened back to a few weeks ago, noting how the Harrison goal could have “spelled the end for us. But tonight (Saturday), we kept raising our level of play as the game went on.”

The loss for the Generals dropped their record to 14-5-0-1.

After the game, head coach Greg Walters refused comment.

Brkin made it three wins in three starts since joining the Hounds in a deal with the Kingston Frontenacs.

While he wasn’t overly busy, the overage did make some key stops, including one on a Ty Tullio breakaway with the Soo leading 1-0.

“This feels amazing. I almost feel like I want to cry,” said Brkin, who’d been waived through the Western Hockey League before joining Kingston. “I’m just so happy. It’s been a long journey this season.”

A native of Sherwood Park, Alta., Brkin has certainly helped settle down what is a young Greyhounds team.

“He’s got a swagger about him,” Dean said.

“The boys played great in front of me,” Brkin said. “They made my job easy tonight.”

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