We’re a day away from the end of summer and two days away from the start of the school year.
But that is cause for little concern in the hockey hotbed that is Sault Ste. Marie.
What is cause for concern is this:
Can the Soo Greyhounds repeat their 95-point regular season of 2013-2014?
Better yet, can the Greyhounds do better than winning one round of the playoffs for the 2014-2015 season?
Ah, the questions that are being asked in Houndtown.
Ah, the expectations that go with being a team that is expected to be an Ontario Hockey League contender again this season.
To be sure, departed general manager Kyle Dubas, now of the National Hockey League’s Toronto Maple Leafs, has left the Hound house in good shape
Really, new GM Kyle Raftis needs only to properly manage what Dubas left him — with a bit of minor patching here and there.
From their overages on out, the Hounds of 2014-2015 are looking good.
The elder statesmen from the year 1994 — forwards Jean Dupuy and Bryan Moore and defenceman Alex Gudbranson — all bring an above-average package to the Greyhounds.
After scoring a goal in three games to begin the 2013-2014 term with the Kingston Frontenacs, the 6-foot-2, 190 pound Dupuy had 9 goals, 8 assists, 17 points in 41 regular-season games with the Greyhounds and then netted 3 goals and an assist in 9 playoff outings. A former 13th-round pick of Kingston’s who has developed into a very-dependable OHL forward, Dupuy does not turn 20 years old until October.
The 6-foot, 200-pound Moore is coming off a point-per-game, 2013-2014 season in which he had 11 goals, 22 assists, 33 points in 31 games with the Sarnia Sting and then struck for 14 goals, 14 assists, 28 points in 27 contests as a Greyhound.
Gudbranson, a stay-at-home defender, is slated to begin his third full OHL season with the Greyhounds. The 6-foot-2, 205 pound blueliner also played two seasons with Kingston.
To be sure, the Hounds are expected to be be a top contender within the 10-team Western Conference again in 2014-2015 led by the likes of Dupuy, Moore, Gudbranson and high-end forwards Sergey Tolchinsky, Jared McCann, Michael Bunting and local product Blake Speers.
Just 17-years old, Speers seems to have OHL star written all over him. This is a kid — from the hockey factory that is the Soo Thunder minor midgets — who could score 30 or more goals in 2014-2015 after potting 19 as a 16-year old rookie in 2013-2014.
And did we mention plum defenceman Darnell Nurse, who is likely headed back to the Soo from the Edmonton Oilers?
Yes, a question mark looms in goal with four-year veteran Matt Murray turning pro within the ranks of the NHL’s Pittsburgh Penguins.
Right now, the Hounds have second-year OHLer Brandon Halverson and 1998 birth-year rookie Joseph Raaymakers as their two backstops.
Still, as August gets set to give way to September, it’s looking good in Houndtown.
PHOTO: Second-year Greyhound centre Blake Speers has OHL star written all over him.