Attack’s season comes to an end
The Owen Sound Attack took the Canadian Hockey League’s number 1 ranked team to the brink, but were unable to finish them off, falling to the Sault Ste. Marie Greyhounds in Game 7 of the Western Conference Semifinals on Tuesday, Apr. 17.
A five goal 3rd period brought the Attack close, but they just didn’t have enough to overcome an insurmountable Greyhounds lead and Sault Ste. Marie would eventually wind up winning 9-7.
A furiously quick start to the opening period saw the teams go back and forth for the opening 10:00, trading scoring chances at both ends.
Both Mack Guzda and Matthew Vilallta were up to the task though, until Owen Sound capitalized on a turnover in the Soo zone.
Sean Durzi was able to jump on a loose puck just inside the Greyhounds’ zone before feeding Ethan Szypula with a pass that was relayed to Brett McKenzie.
At the side of the net, McKenzie made no mistake and one-timed his 7th goal of the post season into the back of the net to put the Attack up 1-0 at 11:27 of the 1st.
But the tally seemed to just wake the Greyhounds up.
Only 30 seconds later, Noah Carroll tied the game up by snapping a puck up and over Mack Guzda’s glove hand on a rush, making it a 1-1 game.
Then, just 24 more seconds would elapse before Ryan Roth tapped home a rebound at the side of the Attack net to make it a 2-1 contest.
They weren’t done there either.
With 13:48 having been played in the opening frame, Hayden Verbeek put his squad up 3-1, chasing Mack Guzda from the net after the Hounds were able to score three times on 10 shots.
Owen Sound had a chance to draw within one after a tripping penalty was called on Morgan Frost with 38 seconds to play in the 1st, but instead, the Attack surrendered a short handed tally as they watched Sault Ste. Marie’s lead grow larger.
This time, it was Boris Katchouk beating Lafreneire through the five-hole to give the Hounds a 4-1 advantage through 20:00 of action.
When play resumed in the middle stanza, the Attack still had 1:21 of Baywest Nissan Powerplay time remaining and Head Coach Todd Gill opted to put Mack Guzda back into the net after Lafreniere played just 6:12 in the opening frame.
Owen Sound was unable to take advantage of the remaining powerplay time in the 2nd frame, but largely dominated the puck possession through the first 10:00 of the frame.
That zone time was all for naught, though, and with 9:47 having elapsed in the 2nd, Boris Katchouk added another, beating Mack Guzda between the wickets to make it a 5-1 score.
Joining Katchouk with a pair of goals on the evening was Noah Carroll, whose point blast evaded a screened Guzda with 6:04 to play in the 2nd putting his side up 6-1.
Sean Durzi helped the Attack chip away at the Greyhounds’ lead though, blasting his 3rd of the playoffs into the back of the net less than 90 seconds after Sault Ste. Marie’s 6th goal, with assists going to Brett McKenzie and Chase Campbell.
Durzi’s tally concluded the scoring in the 2nd period, with the Hounds taking a 6-2 advantage into the final 20:00 of action.
The Hounds only needed 16 seconds to make the 6-2 score a five goal lead when play began in the 3rd.
With a penalty for cross checking to Sean Durzi having carried over into the frame, Sault Ste. Marie opened the period with Barrett Hayton finishing off a passing play and depositing the puck into the back of the net to make it 7-2.
Displaying the resiliency that they had shown all year though, the Attack refused to give up, and with Taylor Raddysh in the sin bin for tripping, Brett McKenzie tipped home his 2nd of the evening to bring the Attack within four goals yet again.
The 7-3 tally came at 4:14 of the 3rd and was assisted on by Brady Lyle and Alan Lyszczarczyk.
But then some penalty trouble got the Attack, shutting down any chance of a late game comeback.
With Daylon Groulx in the box for almost four consecutive minutes, Boris Katchouk was able to complete his hat-trick, making it an 8-3 Sault Ste. Marie lead with 13:46 having gone in the 3rd.
Owen Sound did respond less than a minute later, however.
Taking a feed in his own zone from Mitchell Russell, Jacob Friend went coast to coast before snapping a puck past Matthew Vilallta’s glove hand to make it 8-4 with 5:16 to play in the game.
And that sparked the Attack.
With 2:47 left in regulation, Jonah Gadjovich powered his way to the front of the net and roofed his 2nd of the playoffs over Vilallta to bring Owen Sound within three.
Then with the teams at four on four and Guzda on the bench in favour of the extra skater, Sean Durzi ripped a shot from the point into the back of the net to make it 8-6 just 21 seconds later.
The comeback seemed to be on, but then with 1:57 to play in the game, Taylor Raddysh put the biscuit into an empty cage to restore the Greyhounds’ three goal cushion.
Owen Sound wasn’t going to roll over though, and with the cage empty again, Kevin Hancock was able to blast a one-timer past Vilallta to make it 9-7 and keep the hopes of overtime alive.
But that’s as close as Owen Sound would get, as the Hounds were able to hold onto the two goal lead through the final minute and advance to the Western Conference Championship Series against the Kitchener Rangers.
Sean Durzi was named the Mac Taylor Corporation 3rd Star of the Game, with Sault Ste. Marie’s Boris Katchouk and Noah Carroll picking up 1st and 2nd stars respectively.
The Mark McDade Chestnut Park Shots on Goal finished at 36-34 for the Attack on the evening.
This season of Attack Hockey was brought to you by Lerners Personal Injury Lawyers and Betrand & Muzzell Paralegal Services.