As of Tuesday’s press deadline, the Wolves were tied with Ottawa — a club in the midst of a major rebuild — for allowing the most goals against in the league.
It is unacceptable and the players are taking responsibility. Veteran blueliner Jeff Corbett sees the team turning a page when it comes to playing better overall team defence, especially after last weekend’s results. Corbett and the rest of the Wolves know they need to get it together in all three zones to push Sudbury into the upper echelon of competitive clubs this season.
The defence will not rest.
“We have cleaned it up a lot, to be honest,” Corbett said. “It is progressing as the season goes on. We’re going to be solid in the backend as we roll on. It’s coming.
“When it comes to defensive zone coverage, we’re working hard in practice and you can see it starting to transition over to games.”
No matter what the Wolves do to shore up their defensive shortcomings, there is one key area that will always hinder the team, and it is an area that must be rectified without excuses. Penalties and penalty killing are two sore spots rubbing a lot of players and coaches the wrong way.
“Our penalty kill, we are one of the worst in the league right now,” Corbett said. “It’s a matter of too many penalties in a game. It is definitely a part of the game we have to work on and be better at.”
The Wolves defensive play is going to be put to the test this weekend as the potent Kingston Frontenacs come in Friday (7:30 p.m. start) followed by the Belleville Bulls on Saturday (7 p.m. start).
Kingston is on fire and is one of the highest scoring teams in the league. They make any team pay for turnovers and mistakes. The Bulls, despite their record, can’t be underestimated.
Head Coach Paul Fixter sees modest improvement in his team’s defensive play, but he is also well aware Kingston packs an offensive wallop.
The last time the two teams met — Oct. 11 in Kingston — Sudbury was humbled 10-1. Fixter knows his team has to be better, especially against the Frontenacs.
“Kingston is a highly explosive and good club,” he said. “(And) Belleville is always well prepared with George Burnett coaching.
“There are no easy games for us. Our defensive play was much better last weekend, but we are still giving up untimely goals and too many goals. This is going to be a test for us.”