The Sudbury Wolves can really relate to the 1993 movie “Groundhog Day”.
Phil is a TV weatherman covering the annual emergence of the groundhog from its hole. He gets caught in a blizzard that he didn't predict and finds himself trapped in a time warp. He is doomed to relive the same day over and over again until he gets it right.
Unfortunately, the Wolves didn’t get it right Saturday or Sunday.
In the games in Owen Sound Saturday night and in Mississauga Sunday afternoon, they took eerily similar paths. Both saw Nathan Pancel score in the first minute, the Wolves would fall behind, battle back and then Nick Baptiste would provide last-second heroics to send each game into overtime —scoring with 4.8 seconds left in Owen Sound and with just 2.6 seconds left in Mississauga.
The similarities didn’t stop there.
In both games, the Wolves took penalties that led to overtime losses — 7-6 in Owen Sound and 5-4 in Mississauga.
Head coach Paul Fixter found himself struggling to find the right words to describe how he felt following the game Sunday.
“It stings really hard,” he said. “I feel bad for the forwards who really played hard, and I thought we had some defence that played decent. It’s really tough. It was a divisional team that we need to get points against even at this point of the year.”
It was quite the weekend for the line of Pancel, Baptiste and Mathew Campagna.
They combined for 14 points with Pancel scoring four times and adding an assist, Baptiste scoring three goals and Campagna helping set up six goals.
However, Pancel said it was still tough not coming away with wins on the road.
“We need to take the positives moving on. We did come back and we did get points, so we can’t dwell on the negatives; we have to look at the positives. But we have to stay out of the box with some of the penalties we took uncalled for. We just have to be a lot smarter.”
Penalties again played a factor with the Wolves giving up four more power-play opportunities yesterday after facing 10 shorthanded situations Saturday night.
Captain Kevin Raine said the constant parade to the penalty box is unacceptable.
“Sometimes things don’t go your way. I know I’ve taken some bad penalties and sometimes you have a bad night, but we have to tighten up in that area and stay out of the box.”
Despite the disappointment with the two overtime losses on the road, the 5-3 win on home ice Friday night over the Barrie Colts helped the Wolves record four out of a possible six weekend points.
“We had a tough week of practice,” said Raine. “When you look at what we did last weekend compared to what we did this weekend, if we can keep improving, we’ll be fine.”
Fixter was also looking for the silver lining, but admits they have plenty to work on.
“We came away with points in all three games, and we showed we can come from behind, but we don’t want to make a habit of it. We took too many penalties, there were too many turnovers and we gave up too many goals. If we’re going to give up 10, we better score 12 and we’re not doing that.”
The Wolves are back on home ice Friday night when they host the Peterborough Petes. Game time at the Sudbury Community Arena is 7:35 p.m.
Sunday Game Notes:
-The Wolves outshot the Steelheads 41 to 31.
-The Wolves were 0-4 on the power play while the Steelheads were 2-4.
-Wolves forward Nathan Cull, who made his season debut after serving a three-game suspension, left the game with an upper body injury in the first period and didn’t return.
-Rookie defenceman Kyle Capobianco recorded an assist on the Wolves' first goal of the game for his first career OHL point.
-Wolves scratches: Danny Desrochers (upper body), Dominik Kahun (upper body), Austin Veleke (healthy), Conor Cummins (healthy) and Brody Silk (upper body)
-3 Stars: 1. Trevor Carrick (Miss); 2. Jesse Barwell (Miss); 3. Nathan Pancel (Sud).
Stew Kernan is the radio and television voice of the Sudbury Wolves, and the News Director at KiSS 105.3 and Q92. This column appears every other week in Northern Life.