The Owen Sound Attack watched a three goal lead slip away against the Sault Ste. Marie Greyhounds on Sunday, Mar. 11, but this time they were not to be denied, using a Maksim Sushko shootout goal to give them a 6-5 victory over the Canadian Hockey League’s number one ranked team.
Brett McKenzie paced Owen Sound on the day, scoring a pair of goals in the victory, Owen Sound’s third of the week.
A packed Bayshore was rocking before puck drop and the Attack gave their faithful fans a reason to cheer early on in the game.
Just 3:42 into the contest, Brett McKenzie showed off his wheels, grabbing the puck in the neutral zone and streaking around the Greyhounds’ defence, eventually wrapping the puck around the cage and behind Matthew Villalta for the 1-0 lead.
The unassisted tally marked the 2nd time in as many games that McKenzie opened the scoring for the Attack, and gave him 18 goals on the season.
The team continued to give the crowd reason to get loud, playing smothering hockey that left the Hounds trapped in their own zone for stretches at a time.
Eventually, that pressure wore the Hounds down, and after Barrett Hayton carelessly tossed the puck in front of his own net, Aidan Dudas capitalized.
The draft eligible forward quickly grabbed the puck and roofed it past Villalta for his 30th of the year and a 2-0 Attack lead with 2:38 left in the 1st.
And while that two goal lead held into the intermission, it wasn’t long before the Attack’s lead grew larger in the 2nd.
A quick outlet pass by Ethan Szypula sprung Brett McKenzie on a breakaway before the ice was even dry, and the overager made no mistake, scoring his 2nd of the afternoon on a shot through Villalta’s five hole just 38 seconds into the frame. Alan Lyszczarzczyk also assisted on the play, which made it 3-0 for a short period of time.
That’s because, less than 2:00 later, Keeghan Howdeshell whould end Olivier Lafreniere’s bid at a shutout by smacking home a net front scramble to bring Sault Ste. Marie within a pair.
The Hounds weren’t able to get any closer than that though, as the Attack were able to weather the pressure that the Soo was throwing at them.
Eventually, that resiliency paid off.
After Nick Suzuki jumped on a bouncing puck inside his own blueline just past the 8:00 mark of the frame, the Vegas Golden Knights’ prospect hit speed burst and blasted past the Hounds’ defence for a breakaway.
While his initial shot went through the wickets of Villalta and failed to cross the blueline, Jonah Gadjovich was right there to clean up the garbage, easily tapping home his 24th of the year to restore Owen Sound’s three goal lead.
Unfortunately, just like their initial three goal margin, this one was short lived.
A mere 25 seconds after Gadjovich made it 4-1, Morgan Frost danced into Attack territory and slipped his 39th of the campaign through Olivier Lafreniere’s legs to bring Sault Ste. Marie within two once again.
And just like the end of the 1st, that two goal lead would carry over into the intermission, which the Attack used to get another quick goal once play resumed in the 3rd period.
This time, it was Nick SUzuki finding the back of the net after he stripped Noah Carroll of the puck below the Soo goal line, walked out front of the net, and ripped his 36th of the campaign between Villalta’s five hole to make it 5-2 with only 53 seconds having been played in the frame.
But that’s when penalty trouble eventually bit the Attack.
On their first two minors of the afternoon, a too many men on the ice call to Daylon Groulx, and a hooking minor on Cole Cameron that put the Hounds on a 5-on-3 advantage, the Attack would surrender a pair of tallies to Connor Timmins and Rasmus Sandin that allowed Sault Ste. Marie to make it 5-4.
The visitor’s fourth goal came at 6:30 of the 3rd, just 30 seconds after they made it 5-3, and then, another half minute later, Morgan Frost took a pass in the high slot and buried his 2nd of the game to tie things up at five with 12:54 left in regulation.
That goal wound up forcing an overtime period that solved nothing, forcing the Attack into a shootout with the Greyhounds.
And it was in that shootout that Olivier Lafreniere turned aside each shot that he faced, while Maksim Sushko was able to beat Matthew Villalta, giving the Attack a hard fought 6-5 victory.
Brett McKenzie was named the Mac Taylor Corporation 1st Star of the Game in the performance, while Sault Ste. Marie’s Morgan Frost was tabbed second star of the game. Nick Suzuki finished out the Stars portion of the awards by earning 3rd, while the Hatten Home Building Centre Hardest Working Player of the Game went to Daylon Groulx.
Owen Sound will conclude their season with a trio of games next week, starting on Wednesday, Mar. 14 in Flint against the Firebirds.
The Attack’s final home game, and final game in 2017-18, goes on Saturday, Mar. 17 against the Sarnia Sting at 7:30pm. Tickets are extremely limited and can be purchased at the MacVicar & McComb ReMax Attack Box Office.
This season of Attack Hockey is presented by Lerners Personal Injury Lawyers and Bertrand & Muzzell Paralegal Services.