Hounds look to halt losing skid

Soo Greyhounds' Robert Calisti (22) is chased by Sarnia Sting's Justin McCombs (72) in the first period at Progressive Auto Sales Arena in Sarnia, Ont., on Thursday, Jan. 3, 2019. (Mark Malone/Chatham Daily News/Postmedia Network)

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It’s not quite like looking into a mirror.

But Greyhounds head coach John Dean sees some similarities between the Guelph Storm’s current situation and that faced by his 2018-2019 Soo club.

Last year’s Storm team won the OHL championship. But this year’s club was expected to begin a big rebuilding job after losing a number of top stars to graduation.

“People thought we wouldn’t be good,” Dean said of last year’s Hounds, who also entered the season trying to replace a talented group of graduating players.

However, the Soo finished the 2018-2019 campaign with a surprising 44-16-7-1 mark.

“Winning is a habit,” Dean said, as his team gets ready to face a Guelph club off to a 2-1-1-1 start. “They’ve got kids who are used to winning.”

Included in that group is Sault native Keegan Stevenson, a member of last year’s championship team.

Guelph’s record so far includes a 4-0 win over Owen Sound and just 13 goals against in five games.

Start time is 7:30 p.m. at Sleeman Centre.

It’s the beginning of a three-game trip, which also includes games in Owen Sound on Saturday (7:30 p.m.) and North Bay on Monday (2 p.m.).

“I’ve always said you’re not going to get anything for free against Guelph,” said Dean, whose team dropped two straight last weekend to fall to 4-2-0-0 on the season. “They’re very structured and extremely well coached.”

Dean also talked about how the Storm is consistently on the right side of the puck.

“They forecheck hard and they track back hard,” he added.

The Hounds had a slow start last Saturday against Sudbury here and wound up dropping a 4-3 decision. The score was the same on Sunday as the Soo failed to match Peterborough’s compete level and wound up dropping its second straight.

“We need to play a more structured game and our work ethic needs to be a little bit higher,” said winger Zack Trott. “If we’re a little bit better in our own zone than we were last weekend that’ll translate into more offence for us.”

“Our D zone coverage has to be better,” agreed defenceman Rob Calisti. “And when we lose possession, we’ve got to track back harder and pick guys up.”

In last weekend’s games, the Hounds appeared to lack the swagger they began the season with.

“We still have our swagger,” Trott said assuredly.

“We’re absolutely just as confident,” added Calisti. “It’s just a matter of putting pucks on net and burying them.”

Asked about his goaltending plans for the weekend, Dean told The Sault Star on Thursday he hadn’t made any decisions.

However, he did admit he’d likely use both Christian Propp and Ethan Taylor as starters.

Having left the Sault on Thursday afternoon, the trip covers five days and four nights. That makes it the team’s longest this season.

“It’s an opportunity for us to get away and for the kids to get a little closer,” Dean said.

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