Frantic night in Houndtown

Randy Russon
May 1, 2018

All it would have taken was an overtime goal from the upset-minded visitors and the season would have come to a stunning conclusion for the no. 1 ranked team in Canada.

But in frantic fashion, the Soo Greyhounds are off to the Ontario Hockey League finals following a Monday night marathon.

As for the Kitchener Rangers and their sensational Sault Ste. Marie-born goalie Mario Culina, they showed themselves to be worthy opponents who took heart and desire to the maximum level.

At the end of a given playoff series there can be only one team that emerges victorious.

And a goal by Jack Kopacka in the second 20-minute overtime frame gave the Soo an electrifying 4-3 win over Kitchener in the seventh-and-deciding game of the Western Conference finals.

Thus, the Greyhounds will meet the Eastern Conference champion Hamilton Bulldogs for the OHL championship.

As the Hounds and Bulldogs prepare for the final round of the OHL playoffs, the Rangers pack up for the season, just one goal short of a shot at championship glory.

In a series of top performers from both teams, it was the Soo boy in a Kitchener jersey who stood out among the best players in a series in which the home side won all seven games.

Never drafted into the OHL and coming off two seasons as a backup goalie with the reigning Memorial Cup champion Windsor Spitfires, the aforementioned Culina put Kitchener in position to steal the series from the Soo.

Acquired by Kitchener from the last-place Sudbury Wolves for a mere eighth-round pick at the January 9 OHL trade deadline, Culina not only provided the Rangers with exceptional goal-tending, he brought attention to himself from pro scouts.

And as kudos go to the Greyhounds for advancing to the OHL finals for the first time since 1993, a high-five goes to Kitchener, which finished a whopping 26 points behind the Soo during the regular season and matched it stride-for-stride in the Western Conference finals.

What you think about “Frantic night in Houndtown”

  1. Well said Randy. Kitchener put up a hell of a fight but realistically, this series should have ended in Kitchener in Game 6. Culina put on a show in Game 6 and again in Game 7. Kudos to this kid and someone HAS TO give hime a chance with a pro contract. Happened to Beeker, hopefully happens for Culina.

  2. You’re the best for this very reason, Randy! You have an amazing filter and a perspective on things that I admire the most in your writing and reporting. Wish I could have been there but I know the true pulse and dynamics of the series from all aspects is captured fairly, objectively and from all perspectives! Ever consider doing this full time? See you soon my friend and can’t wait to talk hockey!

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