Sarnia is hot, Soo is not

Randy Russon
November 5, 2019

As the Sarnia Sting is hot, the Soo Greyhounds are not. And in a touch of irony, it is a former Greyhound who has been lighting the lamp for the Sting.

To be sure, this is a tale of two teams that are currently traveling in opposition directions in the Western Conference of the Ontario Hockey League.

Sarnia, in scintillating fashion, has won seven of its last eight games. This, after the Sting, which now has a record of 7-8-0, started out the season with seven straight setbacks.

The Soo, on the other side, has been stumbling. The Greyhounds began the season very impressively by winning their first four games. But they have now lost five in a row and are 2-10-1 in their last 13 games for an overall record of 6-10-1.

The surge for Sarnia has moved the Sting ahead of the Soo in the Western Conference standings.

And with 14 points, ninth-place Sarnia is just six points behind fourth-place Saginaw while holding two games in hand on the Spirit.

Not that the Soo, with 13 points, is far removed from the middle of the Western world. It is just that the Greyhounds, who are in last place, are in very unfamiliar territory.

I mean, when was the last time the Greyhounds were in last place a quarter of the way into the regular season? After all, in seven seasons prior to this one, the Greyhounds averaged an amazing 45 wins a year.

Meanwhile, over in Sarnia, it has been a dramatic turnaround fueled by a few factors.

After missing key performers for several games due to injury and suspension, the Sarnia lineup has been strengthened with the return of the likes of overage captain Ryan McGregor and fellow star forward Jamieson Rees.

And general manager Nick Sinclair has added a few productive parts since the start of the season via the trade route, notably 19-year old forward Ryan Roth.

After asking to be traded from the Greyhounds, Roth was dealt to the Sting six games into this season. And the 5-foot-7, 165-pound mighty mite has found a new comfort zone in Sarnia.

Not that Roth was a mediocre Greyhound as he totaled 36 goals, 39 assists, 75 points in 136 games during his first two full seasons in the Soo. And he was a point-per-game player with the Hounds through the first six games of this season.

But since arriving in Sarnia via trade — the Sting gave up second, fourth and five round picks to acquire the little right winger — Roth has really been clicking with seven goals, 11 assists, 18 points in 10 games with the Sting.

Back to the Greyhounds, there is obviously a lot ailing a team that is coming off those five straight defeats, the most recent loss being a 10-2 home ice thrashing at the hands of the Windsor Spitfires.

What is wrong in Houndtown?

As tough as a record of 6-10-1 is to take, it is harder to fathom when taken into account that the Soo actually started out with four straight wins.

In a word: yikes.

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