March 13, 2018

The best team in junior hockey right now

DOMINANCE. Tim Gettinger and his Soo Greyhounds is the team to beat in junior hockey right now. Photo: Getty Images/Dennis Pajot

The Sault Ste. Marie Greyhounds have lost seven games in regulation all season. Yes, you read that right. Seven losses in regulation, total. How many games they’ve played? 65. In 65 games they have left the ice without a point less than ten times. That is not just impressive, that makes the Soo Greyhounds – as they are referred to in hockey circles – the best team in junior hockey right now.

The Greyhounds carry a record of 53-7-2-3 (53-7-5 by NHL format) at the moment and pace the entire OHL with a staggering 111 points earned. The second best team in terms of points earned, Sarnia Sting, have amassed 93. Across the CHL, there is not a single team in either the QMJHL or the WHL that have been as dominant amongst their peers this season as the Greyhounds. Furthermore, the 111 points gathered ensures the Greyhounds will finish the regular season with more points than ever before in franchise history, regardless of how the final three games turn out. The previous team record of 109 points was set recently, 2014-15, but as that team failed to win a championship, expectations are understandably high on this year’s team to correct that misstep.

Leading the way for the team are a pair of high-scoring Canadian forwards; Morgan Frost and Boris Katchouk. The 27th pick overall in the 2017 draft (Philadelphia Flyers), Frost leads Soo with 107 points (40+67) in 64 games. His point total places him second overall in the OHL scoring race with a real chance to grab the scoring title should he finish strong. Katchouk, a 2016 Tampa Bay Lightning 2nd round draft pick, stands at 83 points in 56 games with his 41 goals pacing the team. However, Frost and Katchouk are just cogs – albeit integral ones – in the machine that is the Sault Ste. Marie Greyhounds. Should any of these top dogs (pun intended) fail to register on the scoresheet, a secondary wave of attack from point-per-game level scorers Timothy Gettinger (2016, 141st overall, NYR), Jack Kopacka (2016, 93rd overall, ANA), Hayden Verbeek (undrafted) and Barret Hayton (2018 draft eligible) is usually enough to break down any opposing defense.

Speaking of defense, the Greyhounds core trio of defenders – Mac Hollowell (2018 draft eligible), Rasmus Sandin (2018 draft eligible) and Conor Timmins (2017, 32nd overall, COL) – aren’t exactly known for their point-scoring abilities, yet all three are chipping along at a nearly point per game rate. Truly a testament to the depth of the 2017-18 Soo Greyhounds.

Rasmus Sandin. Photo: Bildbyrån/Simon Eliasson

Young Sandin is an interesting player for a number of reasons. Not only for his relatively high draft projection in 2018 – quite a few mock drafts have Sandin selected in the first round – but for the way in which he ended up playing for the Greyhounds. After starting the 2017-18 season with limited ice time for Swedish outfit Rögle BK, he requested a loan to Soo – the team that drafted him in the CHL import draft over the summer – with the promise of returning to play for Rögle the following season.
“It has been fun playing against professional players in the SHL but I’ve had a desire to play in the CHL for a long time and I’m glad that Rögle and Soo could come to an agreement. I look forward to developing my game and returning to Ängelholm (Rögle) next season in a larger role”, Sandin said at the time.

It seems Sandin found just the right place to develop.

The Soo Greyhounds excellent 2017-18 regular season have them poised for another deep playoff run, perhaps deep enough to add a fourth J. Ross Robertson Cup trophy (OHL playoff champions) or even a second Memorial Cup trophy as the undisputed champion of the CHL, to their trophy case.

Now all they have to do is get by a league full of playoff teams who would like nothing more than to knock the championship favorites off their throne.

Let the games begin.

Hampus Duvefelt
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