OHL playoffs: Soo versus Sarnia

March 19, 2016

Soo Greyhounds will be the decided underdog in their first-round, best-of-seven, Ontario Hockey League playoff series versus the Sarnia Sting.

The Hounds, who will finish seventh in the Western Conference standings, had a 1-4-1 record in six regular-season matches against the second-seeded Sting.

Games 1 and 2 of the series will be played in Sarnia next Friday and Sunday.

Both games will be broadcast on Sault Ste. Marie radio stations Rock 101 and Oldies 93 with Gerry Liscumb Jr. calling the play-by-play.

“It will be a difficult matchup,” Greyhounds coach Drew Bannister said of the upcoming series against the Sting. “Sarnia will be favoured but we want to make them uncomfortable.”

The youthful Hounds won 19 games on the road during the regular season with the best winning percentage of any team in the West Division.

“We’ve given (Sarnia) some good games, especially on the road,” Hounds centre Hayden Verbeek told Postmedia Network. “It’s obviously going to be a challenge but I would say we’re confident playing them.”

Sarnia, to be sure, is not taking the Soo lightly.

“They’re a young, skilled team,” Sting standout defenceman Jakob Chychrun said of the Greyhounds. “It’s going to be a good matchup for us.”

The standout Chychrun — who Sarnia took with the first overall pick at the 2014 OHL draft — had further words of praise for the Bannister-coached Hounds.

“They play with the puck really well, they have a good breakout, they’ve played us well all year,” noted Chychrun, who added that the favoured Sting can’t get caught looking past the Hounds.

“Obviously you never want to look past the first round or anything, it’s going to be big for us to just focus on the game-to-game things that we are going to have to do to get past the Soo,” added Chychrun.

The series will have extra meaning for 17-year old Sting forward Anthony Salinitri, the Greyhounds first-round draft pick in 2014 who was traded to Sarnia at the 2015 trade deadline for since-graduated defenseman Anthony DeAngelo.

“It’s a big match-up for me and our team,” Salinitri said. “Them being my old team, it’s exciting playing against them but more importantly it’s a good match-up for us, I think we’ve done really well against them this year and we’ve got the team to pretty much beat anyone. They’re our first opponent and we’re looking forward to moving past them.”

Sarnia general manager Nick Sinclair served notice during the regular season that the Sting was taking aim at a long playoff run when it added three high-end, veteran forwards and a seasoned goaltender via the trade route.

In a blockbuster transaction, the Sting acquired overage centre Sam Studnicka and 18-year old right wing sensation Travis Konecny in a trade with the Ottawa 67s, giving up 16-year old centre Sasha Chmelevski, 17-year old winger Chase Campbell and a whopping eight draft picks in return. The highly-regarded Chmelevski was Sarnia’s first-round pick at the 2015 OHL draft.

In a separate trade for an offensive boost, Sarnia picked up another overage dandy in left winger Matt Mistele, getting him from the Oshawa Generals.

And the Sting dealt for yet-another overager when it acquired goalie Charlie Graham from the Hamilton Bulldogs.

The Greyhounds, meanwhile, are one of the younger teams in the entire OHL, making the task of trying to knock off the veteran-laden Sting all that more difficult.

PHOTO: Sting forward Anthony Salinitri, left, watches teammate Jordan Kyrou chip the puck past Hayden Verbeek of the Greyhounds during OHL action earlier this month in Sarnia. (Photo by Terry Bridge/Sarnia Observer/Postmedia Network.)

What you think about “OHL playoffs: Soo versus Sarnia”

  1. This could be the year that the Sting in their first playoff series in almost a decade and the third time in franchise history

  2. Hopefully the Hounds can win 2 games and that will be OK cause Sarnia are a team that is bilt to win.

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