They serve as reminders and motivation for the puck-stopper. In the first regular season meeting against the Sault Ste. Marie Greyhounds in September, Palazzese was on the hook for eight goals in an eventual 10-3 loss.
Tuesday night at Sudbury Community Arena, Palazzese faced down the Greyhounds' big guns, stopping 34 of 36 shots, helping the Wolves beat the Soo 4-2.
Palazzese was outstanding the whole game, making big saves all three periods.
He was at his best Tuesday in the last five minutes of the game. With the Wolves holding on to the two-goal lead and the Greyhounds pressing hard to cut the lead and also tie the game with their own goalie pulled several times, Palazzese stood his ground. He made seven saves in the late stages of the game to preserve the victory and push the Wolves' winning streak to six games.
“I still have those eight goals in the back of my mind,” Palazzese said. “I can’t let it go. We are bitter towards that team. I did what I had to do late in the game. We were up by two and they have a lot of guys who can score. I needed to keep the two-goal lead for us. As a goalie, it is your job to keep your team in the game and change the momentum when you can and I felt like I did that.”
The win was a gritty one. It was also a disciplined victory. The Wolves were finishing checks and blocking shots.
In the third period, Sudbury captain Kevin Raine dove head-first to block a shot in the slot, with the puck bouncing off the side of his face. The Wolves also took just one infraction, limiting the Greyhounds potent power play.
“We have to do those things to win,” Jacob Harris said. “Hard work led to the win, especially in the first and third periods where we outworked them. We were winning the little battles.”
Palazzese’s play inspired the Wolves.
“Frank was phenomenal,” Harris said. “We look up to Frank. He is a leader and when he plays like that, it gives us all a lot of confidence.”
The Wolves jumped all over the Greyhounds in the opening moments of the first period and were rewarding when Harris finished off a pass from Danny Desrochers to score at 4:30. The early goal set the tone for Sudbury.
“It is always good to get the first goal in the first five minutes of a game,” Harris said. “It gets the whole team going. (Ray Huether) made a great turnover to start the play and Desrochers and I went in on a two-on-one. He made a great pass and I was just going to the net and was able to put it in.”
Late in the period, the Wolves got caught running around in their own zone, allowing Soo forward Michael Bunting to score and tie the game at 1-1 at 16:53. Sudbury regained the lead late when forward Connor Crisp poked his own rebound passed the goaline in a scrum to make it 2-1 at 18:03.
In the second period, the two teams exchanged goals, with Soo’s David Miller scoring at 10:38 to make it 2-2, and Sudbury’s Dominik Kubalik scoring at 15:44 to give the Wolves a 3-2 edge.
In the third period, Kubalik salted away the win with a power-play tally at 2:53 to make the game 4-2.
It was the Wolves sixth win in a row and the first win in that span over a top team.
“It’s huge,” Palazzese said. “Western Conference teams are tough to beat, especially a second-place team like the Soo. It says a lot about our guys. You don’t win six in a row without guys blocking shots, not taking stupid penalties and buying into the team game. We’re doing that now. We are showing we can be a force to be reckoned with.”
The Wolves are taking the winning streak in stride. They are not getting cocky about it, but have definitely gained a lot of confidence as a result. Team bonds are becoming stronger and it has played a factor in the recent surge.
“It has taken us a while to gel as a team,” Sudbury blue-liner Stefan LeBlanc said. “We’re closer than ever now and it is important. That chemistry is working for us. We are all buying in.”
The Wolves play next when they host the Oshawa Generals Friday night at 7:30 p.m.
The game’s three stars were: Franky Palazzese (first), Dominik Kubalik (second) Ray Huether (third).
The Wolves scratched Kyle Capobianco, Evan de Haan, David Zeppieri and Brody Silk.
The Greyhounds scratched Nick Pastorious, Brandon Hughes and Mac Clutsam.
Soo forward and Greater Sudbury native Trent Mallette recorded an assist.
The Wolves are 16-9-3-3.
Sudbury is 8-2 in its last 10 games.