Hounds set up for playoff run

March 15, 2024

Fear The North. That is the slogan that the Soo Greyhounds have taken on and are boosting ahead of the looming Ontario Hockey League playoffs.

Greyhounds star defenseman Arttu Karki and goalie Charlie Schenkel. (photo by Bob Davies)

After inexplicably missing the Western Conference playoffs a year ago, the Greyhounds have regrouped this season and, along with the London Knights and Saginaw Spirit, are among the most liked and preferred teams to go on a protracted playoff run.

Not that finishing at or near the top of the conference during the regular season is a guarantee for a prolonged playoff performance.

Just a year ago, after finishing in first place in the Western Conference of the OHL during the regular season, the Windsor Spitfires were swept by the eighth seed Kitchener Rangers in the opening round of the playoffs. Windsor had finished 22 points ahead of Kitchener in the regular season standings.

At any rate, back to this year’s edition of the Greyhounds. Veteran general manager Kyle Raftis has expertly transformed the Greyhounds from Western Conference also-rans to a legit contender in the space of a season.

Not only do the Hounds have two good top lines but their third is on par with any other team. And head coach John Dean is not afraid to utilize his fourth unit in many circumstances.

To be sure, the forward attack of the Hounds is well spread out while being led by two trade acquisitions in Jack Beck and Gavin Hayes. Beck, an overage skater who was acquired from the Ottawa 67’s prior to the start of this season, leads the Hounds in scoring. And not far behind Beck is Hayes, a top National Hockey League prospect of the Chicago Blackhawks who was obtained from the Flint Firebirds at the January 10 trade deadline.

Then there is the Greyhounds talented troika of defensemen — NHL draft picks Kirill Kudryavstev (Vancouver Canucks), Arttu Karki (Vegas Golden Knights) and Andrew Gibson (Detroit Red Wings.) Combined, the trio is averaging a prolific two points a game for the Hounds from the blue line position and are among the best defensemen in the Western Conference.

And between the pipes, workhorse starter Charlie Schenkel is as good as any starting goalie among the Western Conference contenders, except perhaps for London Knights overage puck stopper Michael Simpson.

Fear The North? We shall soon find out.

But it says here that the Greyhounds are every bit as a good as London and Saginaw when looking and analyzing the overall makeup of the contending teams of the Western Conference. First though, the Greyhounds will have to get by a lower seeded team when the first puck drops on the first round of the playoffs.

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