Saturday night at the Barrie Molson Center, the Wolves built a 4-0 lead by the second period and held on to win 6-3, despite running into penalty trouble. It was Sudbury’s second victory over the Colts in just more than a week.
Helping lead the way was Wolves rookie defenceman Stefan LeBlanc, who not only scored his first OHL goal, but he netted two and added an assist. The 17-year-old blueliner says his confidence is at an all-time high.
“I think the coaching staff showing confidence in me and putting me in key situations is definitely boosting my confidence,” LeBlanc said. “I’m just going out there trying to play my game.”
Head coach Paul Fixter said he’s happy for LeBlanc.
“He’s been playing well,” Fixter said. “He’s a player that is committed and he’s got a huge upside.”
Leading 4-0 in the second, the Wolves ran into penalty trouble, allowing the Colts to get back into the game. Two power play goals cut the deficit to 4-2, showing the team has work to do to improve the penalty kill, ranked 19th in the 20-team OHL. Fixter said staying out of the box would be a good place to start.
“I was disappointed and upset with the penalties we took,” he said. “I thought they were selfish and I thought they were uncalled for. It’s something we won’t accept here. We have to get that out of our game.
“That said, I think Franky Palazzese was outstanding on the penalty kill and your goalie has to be the best penalty killer.”
It was another good game for Nathan Pancel, whose hat trick put him within one of the league lead. He now has nine goals on the season, just one behind league leader Gemel Smith of the Owen Sound Attack.
Pancel was quick to share the credit.
“It was good,” he said. “A lot of great passes from Baptiste and Campagna, can’t complain playing with them.
“We played a lot better in the defensive zone. We took our time when we needed and we settled down and worked hard, so it worked out well.”
Since opening the season with a 10-3 loss in the Soo, the Wolves have gone 3-0-2-0 including 5-3 and 6-3 wins over Barrie.
Fixter called Saturday night’s victory a huge character win for the team.
“We finally played as a team, bought in to what we are trying to preach,” he said. “We had a very long video session before we left for Barrie and the guys paid attention to detail and they got rewarded for it.”
Along with the three goals from Pancel and two from LeBlanc, Nick Baptiste scored once and added three assists to finish the weekend with four goals and three assists.
The Wolves are back in action Thursday night when they open up a three-game road trip in Peterborough. Then it’s on to Kingston Friday night finishing up the weekend in Ottawa Sunday afternoon.
Saturday’s Game Notes:
- Barrie outshot the Wolves 45-26.
- Sudbury scored on all three of its power-play chances, while Barrie was 2 for 6.
- Mathew Campagna had three assists against Barrie and now has 14 points on the season, which has him in a three-way tie for the league scoring lead.
- Wolves scratches: Jeff Corbett (day to day), Nathan Cull (upper body), Dominik Kahun (upper body), Austin Veleke (healthy) and Brody Silk (upper body).
- Three stars: 1) Nathan Pance 2) Franky Palazzese 3) Nick Baptiste.