Roll call: Adam McMaster, Andrew Perrott, Zach Poirier, Barret Kirwin, Mark Woolley, Sergey Popov.
That’s seven new Owen Sound Attack players since the end of December – New Year, new team.
The fresh-faces skated to a 4-3 win over the Kitchener Rangers on Wednesday night inside the Harry Lumley Bayshore Community Centre.
“It wasn’t a Picasso, that’s for sure,” said head coach Todd Gill.
The team failed to register a shot for 17 minutes between the second and third periods while defending a two goal lead.
Mack Guzda stopped 17 of 18 shots in the final frame to help seal the victory amidst a number of defensive breakdowns.
“That’s probably why I am going to be a little greyer, but it’s fun showing them the mistake and watching them go out and fix it,” said Gill.
The remodelled Bears wasted no time making a first impression in front of the hometown crowd. Rookie German import Manuel Alberg scored his first-career Ontario Hockey League goal off the rush to give Owen Sound a 1-0 lead.
The speedy Alberg broke down the wing and used a Rangers defender as a screen to beat Owen Sound native Lucas Pfeil in goal.
“I got the monkey off my back now. I hope there’s more to come,” he said. “(The transition to the OHL) was difficult. I’m not going to lie, I thought it was going to be way easier.”
Alberg said he didn’t have to tell anyone about his first career goal, because they all texted him. Former teammates Kevin Hancock and Zach Roberts reached out by phone.
Minutes later Brady Lyle’s blast from the point gave the Attack a 2-0 advantage as Owen Sound’s new-look power play converted on its first opportunity.
Jonathan Yantsis scooped and scored on a rebound late in the first period to get the Rangers on the board, but Kaleb Pearson responded 23 seconds later by beating Pfeil five-hole streaking down the wing.
Owen Sound led 3-1 after the first 20 minutes.
Alberg is one of those Attack players tasked with playing a new role for the Attack moving forward. He’s been made a winger on Gill’s new shut down trio.
“I’ve always been the offensive guy, and always on the power (play), but I think that’s a good side I have to learn too. The defensive side is a big part of the game, and that’s improved,” he said.
Yantis added his second marker of the game, and 28thof the season, in the second period. Three Rangers players had a crack at the puck inside the crease before Yantsis succeeded in scoring.
Another first came later in the frame when Andrew Perrott picked up his first goal of the season, and first in an Attack sweater to regain Owen Sound’s two-goal lead.
Some nice work on the forecheck by converted defender Igor Chibrikov gave Owen Sound possession in the offensive zone.
Perrott’s marker beat Luke Richardson, who came in the replace Pfiel at the start of the second period.
Owen Sound was playing with fire in the final frame.
The Bayshore Boys went a long stretch without registering a shot, and relied on Guzda to bail them out.
Joseph Gareffa finally converted on the Rangers 12thshot of the period to bring Kitchener back within a goal.
Guzda again had to make a number of key saves, including in the dying seconds with the Rangers goalie pulled and the extra-attacker on the ice.
Gill said to expect some headaches and defensive miscues while the new crew settles.
“You don’t have that luxury of just looking down and saying ‘(Suzuki), go,’ in any situation,” he said “You see who I have on the ice in the last seconds. You never would have seen those guys before. It’s a great opportunity for them to learn.”
Guzda stopped 35 of 38 shots while Pfeil got in front of six of nine attempts at the net before being replaced by Richardson who put down 11 of 12 Attack shots.
Owen Sound now embarks on a two-game road trip to Erie to close out the week. Game 1 will go Friday night at the Erie Insurance Arena with puck drop scheduled for 7 p.m.