Wins but no championships

Randy Russon
May 24, 2019

Somewhere at some point, the Soo Greyhounds must have offended the hockey gods. The Greyhounds have had seven straight winning seasons — averaging 45 victories a year during that span — but do not have a single Ontario Hockey League championship to show for it.

The string of success began during the 2012-2013 campaign when the Greyhounds put up 78 points from a regular-season record of 36-26-6 only to lose to the Owen Sound Attack in the first round of the Western Conference playoffs.

Then came the 2013-2014 regular season and 95 points from a record of 44-17-7. But the end came for the Greyhounds in the Western Conference semi-finals when they were ousted by the Erie Otters.

Up next was a resounding 110-point regular season in 2014-2015 from an eye-popping record of 54-12-2. But Erie would again prove to be a nemesis for the Soo as the Otters upset the favoured Greyhounds in the Western Conference finals.

The 2015-2016 season was pegged as a rebuild term but the Greyhounds still put together a 33-27-8 record, good for 74 points. The Soo then staged a first-round playoff upset before losing to — you guessed it, Erie — in the Western Conference semi-finals.

The 2016-2017 season resulted in 100 points from a record of 48-16-4. But the Greyhounds again fell victim to the upset as they were upended by Owen Sound in the Western Conference semi-finals.

The 2017-2018 term was a spectacular one for the Greyhounds, who breezed through the regular season with 116 points from a remarkable record of 55-7-6. The Soo was heavy favourites to win the league championship only to come up short to the Eastern Conference champion Hamilton Bulldogs in the OHL finals.

A rebuild season was thought to be in order in 2018-2019. But the Greyhounds surprised many by putting up 96 points from a record of 44-16-8. The playoff end was again familiar, though, as the Greyhounds were defeated by the Saginaw Spirit in the Western Conference semi-finals.

Do the math and not only have the Greyhounds averaged 45 regular-season wins since 2012-2013 but they have hit the 100-point mark three times and surpassed the 95-point mark on two other occasions.

Somehow it just does not seem fair that a championship has eluded the Soo during a seven-season period in which the Greyhounds have been such a consistent, elite OHL team.

They have had such success with three different head coaches in Sheldon Keefe, Drew Bannister and John Dean and two general managers in Kyle Dubas and Kyle Raftis.

The guy who I feel for the most is Raftis, who has been the GM for five years and has led the Greyhounds to three regular seasons of 100 points or more.

PHOTO: Kyle Raftis has put together an outstanding five-year run as general manager of the Soo Greyhounds.

What you think about “Wins but no championships”

  1. Spot on Randy! A great synopsis indeed! Goes to show the parity in the league and the good fortune one needs to actually raise the JRoss Robertson Cup 🏆. I always say the Memorial Cup team of 1993, though didn’t win the OHL, peaked in time to take the Memorial Cup when the the home ice presented them their opportunity by sweeping the Super Series week’s earlier. The 2 Hound teams prior actually recorded 42,43 wins to the 36 of the 1993 team but didn’t have the hockey Gods on their side. The returning ‘9’ made sure that they would not be denied in 1993.
    The more recent Hound teams were denied 3 consecutive years by Erie and generational talent Conor McDavid .So many factors in winning a Championship but agree what a run by the Greyhounds and the fans of this organization have to feel blessed .

  2. Hey Armand5,
    I hear you, ol’ chum. I was all for the Greyhounds, going into the OHL finals against the Bulldogs last year. (My northern affections outweighed my fond recollections of times spent in the old Mount Hamilton Arena with Bert T. and the Centennials.)

    However, the antics of a couple of Soo players in the early games were more than a little irritating, and I was not too disappointed when the Bulldogs pulled off the upset, (which is always unfortunate for the rest of the kids on any team).

    Oh well, better times ahead. One of these fine days a northern Ontario team will hoist the J. Ross Robertson again. Hopefully, I’ll still be here to see and enjoy it.

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