Just as was the case in the first round of the playoffs, Soo Greyhounds are in a must-win situation on home ice.
Having lost Game 1 of their second-round, best-of-seven, Ontario Hockey League playoff series to the visiting Erie Otters on Wednesday, the Greyhounds are in desperate need of a victory tonight at the Essar Centre.
The Hounds faced a similar task in the opening round of the playoffs when they lost Game 1 at home to the Owen Sound Attack. And the Soo rebounded to win the next four games to take the series.
But that was Owen Sound.
This is Erie, a team that finished second overall in the 20-team OHL during the 2013-2014 regular season.
To be sure, the Hounds cannot afford to go to Erie for Games 3 and 4 on Monday and Tuesday of next week down two games to none.
Because not only did Erie have the OHL’s second-best record during the regular season, the Otters had a league-best mark of 30-3-1 on home ice.
While it can be argued that the Hounds have more depth at forward than the Otters and that Soo goalie Matt Murray is an upgrade over both Devin Williams and Oscar Dansk of Erie, that doesn’t change the pressure-cooker factor of tonight’s game.
Erie can afford to lose tonight’s game a lot more than the Soo can.
To be sure, the Otters were the better team and full marks for the 3-1 win in Game 1.
And if it’s true that the Soo has more depth at forward than Erie, the Otters do have the edge in the impact-player variety.
It is no easy task trying to contain an Erie machine that features a six-pack of fearsome forwards in Dane Fox, Connor Brown, Connor McDavid, Andre Burakovsky, Brendan Gaunce and Michael Curtis.