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Reality check: Wolves aren’t panicking

By: Stew Kernan - Pack Mentality

 | Jan 28, 2014 - 2:22 PM |
Expected to help the Sudbury Wolves with a long playoff run, trades Radek Faksa (left) and Trevor Carrick have taken time to settle in with the Nickel City squad. Photos Terry Wilson/OHL Images

Expected to help the Sudbury Wolves with a long playoff run, trades Radek Faksa (left) and Trevor Carrick have taken time to settle in with the Nickel City squad. Photos Terry Wilson/OHL Images

The Sudbury Wolves entered 2014 as one of the hottest teams — not only in the OHL, but in all of junior hockey.

And while wins have been harder to come by the last couple of weeks, there is certainly no reason to panic.

From Nov. 17 to Jan. 11, the Wolves went an incredible 16-2 and there wasn’t much to complain about. They also went out and picked up a couple of skilled players at the trade deadline who were expected to be the final pieces of the puzzle for a long playoff run.

Radek Faksa and Trevor Carrick came to town with plenty of fanfare, but the results have been lukewarm so far. The team has gone 4-3-0-2 since the trades and needed a 4-2 win over the Barrie Colts last Sunday to end a four-game winless streak.

Some have suggested the additions have disrupted the chemistry the team had, but I disagree.

Faksa has three goals and four assists in the nine games since the trade and is a plus five. He has shown flashes of the skill level that made him a first-round NHL draft pick and it’s just a matter of time until he hits his stride.

The big challenge is finding the right players to keep up with him.

Trevor Carrick has been a little harder to figure out. He came to Sudbury as one of the highest scoring defencemen in the league with 16 goals.

Nine games in, though, he hasn’t found the back on the net yet and has chipped in with only four assists. While a plus five since the trade, Carrick has had some defensive lapses that you wouldn’t expect from a veteran.

While expectations for both players were extremely high, I expect when all is said and done, the numbers for both players will be where most of us thought they would be. Anyone coming to a new team needs a period of adjustment, and, to me, that is exactly what Faksa and Carrick are going through.

While a lot of the focus is on the newcomers, I think there are some other players who have to take some responsibility for the team’s recent struggles.

After almost scoring at will for a time, Nathan Pancel hasn’t notched a goal in eight games and the Pack's leading scorer, Mathew Campagna, has only one goal and four assists in his last nine games.

It’s easy to get caught up in the hype when things are going well, but the danger comes when a player starts reading his own headlines and forgets what it took to get that point.

The Wolves only have to look back to the start of the season when inconsistency was the norm. Much of that could have been explained by the new coaching staff trying to get their message across, along with new systems and a new style of play.

With time, that inconsistency was overcome and I see a lot of similarities when it comes to what Faksa and Carrick are going through. Time will tell.

There’s nothing wrong with a reality check — all teams go through ups and downs over the course of a long season.

I would much rather go through a slump now than a month or six weeks from now.

Stew Kernan is the radio and television voice of the Sudbury Wolves, and the News Director at KiSS 105.3 and Q92.

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