The Western Conference's second is set, with Owen Sound-Plymouth and London-Kitchener tentatively skedded to begin Friday. The Attack ran the Sault Ste. Marie Greyhounds out of rocks, winning 4-3.
Owen Sound 4 Sault Ste. Marie 3 (Attack win 4-2) — Why should the 'Hounds keep their heads high? Sault Ste. Marie, if everything had broken just so for it, might have been able to pull off a six-game series win. Realistically, the Sheldon Keefe-coached 'Hounds stretched it out to its logical end. It just couldn't match the depth of of Owen Sound, which is built to play well into spring this season. Owen Sound was the better third-period team across the series' whole run.
From Bill Walker:
“We had a good start and by the third period in every game they seem to be out of energy and out of gas and they can’t compete with us,” said [Attack winger Holden] Cook.
“Just like by the end of the series we wore them down and they couldn’t handle us." (Owen Sound 4 Sault Ste. Marie 3)
Owen Sound will be the underdog in the conference semifinal vs. the rested and deep Whalers. Two talking points to internalize are that its drafted forwards, Daniel Catenacci, Artur Gavrus and Gemel Smith (six goals in as many games), produced offensively to make up for 35-goal scorer Cameron Brace's absence due to suspension.
What did this series do for the 'Hounds organization? The passion seems to be back, since a six-game loss actually represented Sault Ste. Marie's longest stay in the second season since 2008. The Greyhounds might be in a one-step-back, one-forward situation. Several frontline contributors are moving on from major junior: 103-point scorer Nick Cousins, winger Brandon Alderson and David Broll and defencemen Chris Buonomo, Colin Miller and Ryan Sproul certainly played their final OHL games on Sunday. Wings Andrew Fritsch and Michael Schumacher are also in the late-round pick limbo where the plans of their NHL organizations will decide whether they return as overages. That's a lot to replace, but at least one of the league's most fevered fanbase has seen the Soo win playoff games again.
From Peter Ruicci:
For the first time since going to the Western Conference finals and losing to Kitchener in 2008, the Hounds treated their fans to that delicious level of anxiety typical of the very best of OHL playoff hockey.
With Matt Murray posting the shutout, the excitement of that 1-0 overtime victory, in a must-win Game 4 last Wednesday at Essar Centre, will not soon be forgotten.
We haven't witnessed the sheer emotion that followed Ryan Sproul's winner at 19:12 of the OT frame in a very long time.
Recent history is another reason why a first-round playoff exit doesn't necessarily equate to a Greyhounds failure this year. (Sault Star)
General manager Kyle Dubas and coach Sheldon Keefe, each the youngest in the OHL in those capacities, have earned themselves a longer grace period. Their 1995 cohort of creative forward Sergey Tolchinsky, NHL first-rounder to be Darnell Nurse and goalie Justin Nichols should provide the stuff to stay competitive.
Neate Sager is a writer for Yahoo! Canada Sports. Follow him on Twitter @neatebuzzthenet. Please address any questions, comments or concerns to firstname.lastname@example.org.