Saturday Highlights: Villalta stands tall as Greyhounds come back strong
ROGERS OHL CHAMPIONSHIP SERIES – GAME 2:
SAULT STE. MARIE 4 – HAMILTON 2
Series tied 1-1
After coming away unsatisfied following a Game 1 overtime loss, Matthew Villalta was a difference-maker on Saturday, turning in a first star performance with 36 saves as the Soo Greyhounds rebounded against the Hamilton Bulldogs at the Essar Centre.
Barrett Hayton (7), Morgan Frost (8, 9) and Jack Kopacka (10) had goals as the Hounds defeated the Bulldogs 4-2, knotting up the Rogers OHL Championship Series 1-1 headed to Hamilton for Game 3 on Monday.
“It was probably by best performance of the playoffs so far,” reflected Villalta post-game. “I thought I was pretty solid. You can always be better than your best though so I’m going to keep working hard to keep playing well.”
The recently signed Los Angeles Kings prospect was locked in from the drop of the puck, coming up big for Sault Ste. Marie in the opening period as they were outshot 18-7.
“We got off to a slow start in the first so I had to make sure I was taking one shot at a time and just try and be ready for the next one,” he added. “As the game went on we got better.”
Hayton opened the scoring for the Greyhounds before Game 1 overtime hero MacKenzie Entwistle (8) evened things up on the power play with 25 seconds left in the first.
Frost and Kopacka scored less than three minutes apart midway through the second to put Sault Ste. Marie up 3-1 before Hamilton’s Brandon Saigeon (14) drew the Bulldogs within one with 7:14 to go in the third.
After a Hamilton flurry, Frost would hit the empty net for his second of the night to give the Hounds new life in the series.
“It was an improvement on our showing in Game 1,” affirmed head coach Drew Bannister.
“So far It’s been exciting hockey. I expect it to get faster and more intense as the series goes on here.”
Hamilton outshot Sault Ste. Marie 38-34 as both clubs went 2-for-4 on the power play. The Greyhounds controlled the faceoff circle, winning 64 percent of the game’s draws.
POST-GAME PRESS CONFERENCE: