The Owen Sound Attack ended the North Bay Battalion’s seven-game winning streak with a 4-3 shootout victory in front of 3,140 fans at the Bayshore Saturday night.
Mack Guzda stopped all 18 shots in relief after the Attack went down 3-0 on six shots. Aidan Dudas scored the only goal in the shootout for the win, but Todd Gill wanted to talk about the unheralded few in his locker room.
Owen Sound’s head coach said he used Cade Robinson, Jackson Doherty and Manuel Alberg in a defensive role.
“I used them to shut down their top line, and they did an incredible job against them,” he said. “They were tracking hard, and didn’t give them any room to breathe. That’s what you need.”
The coach said rookies Bryce Caruk, who scored the Attack’s opening goal, and Griffin Wilson played their best games of the season.
“I’m ecstatic. There’s been a lot of emotion in the last couple days with teammates leaving, and guys who have been here for a long time,” said Gill. “After that third goal I thought “oh boy,” but they showed character. They wanted it tonight.”
Owen Sound went down 3-0 under 22 minutes in. Luke Burghardt scored his first goal of the season since returning from what was originally thought to be a career-ending injury. Brad Chenier beat Andrew MacLean on a breakaway, and Nick King squeezed the puck past the rookie goalie on the Battalion’s first shot of the second period. Gill swapped in Guzda at that point and ended the rookie tender’s tough night at the office.
Owen Sound responded. Fresh off watching two of their leaders traded to division rivals, and with more rumours swirling around the team, the Attack bounced back.
“I always say the dressing room is the haven. No matter what is going on in the rest of your life this is the one time to get away from all the outdoor noise,” said Gill.
“It doesn’t matter if we trade all our good players away, it doesn’t matter, we just have to work hard every game because that’s when good things happen,” echoed Dudas.
First, a shot by Zach Roberts rebounded right off the foot of Caruk for the rookie’s second career goal. Then Nick Suzuki notched a power play marker to move the Attack within one, and slide Suzuki into third all-time in career goals for the Attack.
The Montreal Canadiens prospect dominated in the third period. Despite a whirlwind week that started in Vancouver at the World Junior Championship, Suzuki was all over the ice.
“He was flying tonight, and guys were following suit,” said Gill.
Brady Lyle’s power play point shot drifted into the top of the net to tie the game in the third period, and the comeback was complete.
Owen Sound killed a Dudas tripping penalty in overtime, but the third-year player made up for the infraction in the shootout.
“I stepped on and the crowd was pretty loud. I had some chills,” he said. “I saw McMaster went low glove . . . Suzuki tried to deke . . . so I thought I would make one fake on my forehand and go top-shelf. I got him to bite a little bit and saw the opening.”
Dudas’ shot sent the Bayshore fans home happy as the Parry Sound native revelled in the celebration.
“Every time I score I like to get the crowd into it. I saw everyone standing up. Honestly I didn’t know what I was going to do, but it was pretty awesome,” he said.
In a week that saw two of the team’s best players and their biggest point producer sent packing, “awesome” was back on the menu Saturday night for the hometown crowd.
“You can’t replace those guys,” said Gill. “But we’re going to ask them to try, and it’s going to be fun watching them.”