SAULT STE. MARIE – The Sault Ste. Marie Greyhounds are off to the OHL Western Conference Final after defeating the Owen Sound Attack, 9-7, in game 7 of their second-round matchup at the Essar Centre in the Soo.
Brett McKenzie opened the scoring for the Attack midway through the opening frame. The goal marked McKenzie’s 7th goal of the post-season and 2nd in as many games for Owen Sound. The Vars, Ont., native was acquired by North Bay at the 2018 trade deadline and had 22 goals and 27 assists in 64 games played this regular season with North Bay and Owen Sound. McKenzie was taken 194th overall (7th round) in the 2016 NHL Entry Draft by the Vancouver Canucks.
After the McKenzie goal, it was all Hounds for the rest of the period. Noah Carroll scored his first goal of the post-season just 1:20 after the McKenzie opening goal, tying the game at 1-1. Then, just 30 seconds later, Ryan Roth added his first of the post-season as well, giving the Soo a 2-1 lead with just under eight minutes to play in the opening frame.
It only took another 31 seconds for the Greyhounds to find the back of the net once again. Hayden Verbeek scored his fourth playoff goal this year and extended his teams lead to 3-1. For Verbeek, an overager from Kingston, Ont., who has played all 5 OHL seasons with Sault Ste. Marie, it snapped a two-game pointless drought. Verbeek had 2 goals and 1 assist in game two. Verbeek was also sidelined from games 5 and 6 in this series.
The Greyhounds would strike again before the period was up. Boris Katchouk scored his 9th post-season goal with 17 seconds remaining. The goal was also a short-handed marker as Morgan Frost was serving a tripping minor.
After 20 minutes of play, the Soo Greyhounds had a 4-1 lead in game 7.
The bleeding wouldn’t stop there for Owen Sound as Katchouk would add another goal midway through the second period, extending the Sault Ste. Marie lead to 5-1. A little over four minutes later, Noah Carroll would add his 2nd of the game and the playoffs to give the Greyhounds a commanding 6-1 lead in the contest.
But Owen Sound would start to battle back. Sean Durzi scored his 3rd of the post-season with 4:49 left in the middle period to bring the Sault Ste. Marie lead down to 6-2 afte 40 minutes of play.
It didn’t take long for Sault Ste. Marie to get things going in the third period however, Barrett Hayton netted his 5th post-season goal with assists coming from Frost and Katchouk, giving the home team a 7-2 lead.
After McKenzie scored again for the Attack, Boris Katchouk scored his 3rd of the game, and 11th of the playoffs. It was Katchouk’s 2nd hat-trick in the playoffs this year and his 6th multi-point game of the playoffs. Sault Ste. Marie leads 8-3.
But within four minutes, Jacob Friend, Jonah Gadjovich, and Sean Durzi all scored for the attack, giving bringing Owen Sound back into the game, shrinking the Sault Ste. Marie lead to 8-6.
Taylor Raddysh would add an empty netter before Kevin Hancock could score the Attack’s 7th goal of the game.
That would end the crazy ending to this OHL Western Conference Semi-Final as the Greyhounds took the contest 9-7 over the Attack.
Sault Ste. Marie will move on to take on the Kitchener Rangers in the 2018 OHL West Final. The winner of that series will either play Kingston or Hamilton in the OHL Championship for a trip to Regina for the MasterCard Memorial Cup.
The East Final will begin Wednesday April 18, in Hamilton. There has yet to be a start date for the West Final.