A boost of confidence is seldom a bad thing once the end of the regular season and beginning of the post-season are clearly in sight.
The Sudbury Nickel Capital Wolves went toe to toe with the Soo North Stars Jan. 19-20 in Sault Ste Marie, with each team emerging with a 3-2 victory.
The Sudbury win on Jan. 19 was the first time this year that the Wolves have beaten the North Stars, dropping the four previous encounters by a total count of 21-8.
Needless to say, playing Sault Ste Marie dead even this time around was crucial.
Even more impressive was the fact the Nickel Capital Wolves rallied from a 2-1 second-period deficit, receiving goals from Brenden Pheasant and Josh Moore in the third and escaping with their biggest win of the season on the road.
Daniel Eddy rounded out the scoring for the locals, with Matt Pinder and Ryan Vendramin countering in a losing cause for the North Stars.
It was a mirror image on Jan. 20 as Sudbury defenceman Niibin Nashkawa broke a 1-1 deadlock early in the third, only to see Nathan Hebert answer less than a minute later, with Vendramin netting the game-winner with 8:26 to play.
Pinder and Jackson Gunner traded second-period goals, with the Soo all but clinching the GNML regular season championship with their win.
The North Stars currently lead Sudbury by just a single point, but the Wolves have only one game remaining — Feb. 2 vs. Nickel City in Little Current — while the Stars still have five games squeezed into the next 11 days in order to put themselves safely out of reach.
While the Nickel City Sons had the weekend off, the team disputed another close affair with Sudbury earlier in the week, dropping a 3-1 decision Jan. 15 at the Chelmsford Arena.
Michael Laidley, Dylan Callaghan and D.J. Hancock handled the offence for the winners, while Sheldon Lalonde bested Sudbury netminder Andrew Lefebvre with the only scoring of the opening frame, and the only scoring the Sons would manage on the night.
The Sons tackle a challenging three-game Northern road trip this coming weekend, likely needing to pick up a pair of wins to keep their hopes alive for first-round playoff home-ice advantage.
The Sons travel to New Liskeard today, Kapuskasing on tomorrow and close things off with a Sunday afternoon visit to Kirkland Lake.
Three points ahead of Nickel City but with one less game to play, Timmins hosts Kapuskasing for a pair of games, ending the schedule by rolling out the welcome mat for North Bay and Sault Ste Marie on the first weekend of February.
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