They jumped on North Bay’s mistakes, especially in the second period; tallied a power play goal, got goals from their big guns; played physical; killed off all penalties and received solid goaltending from starter Franky Palazzese, who made 28 saves - all ingredients which lead to another success.
This made Sudbury head coach Paul Fixter happy after the game. Something else caught his eye though. Fixter saw more than a win Friday night out the Wolves. The coach pointed out a blocked shot by defenceman Evan de Haan in the third period, a big goal for gritty forward Nathan Cull (the game winner) and a feisty scrap by forward Matt Schmalz as the biggest reason to smile after the game.
“Those are all things that make a team a team,” Fixter said.
With the Wolves holding the two-goal edge, North Bay pulled goalie Jake Smith with 2:29 left in the third. Matters were compounded when Sudbury defender Jeff Corbett took a delay of game call for shooting the puck over the glass. The Battalion worked a six-on-four man-advantage power play, but couldn’t break the Wolves defensive play.
“It’s a tough situation to be in,” Fixter said. “Six-on-four isn’t easy. We got the job done. Give the penalty killers a lot of credit. They’ve taken a lot of pride in it the last month and they’ve been very effective.”
The Wolves hadn’t played in 12 days, since they beat North Bay 1-0 in overtime on home ice Dec. 15. The lay-off looked like it was going to wreak havoc on Sudbury’s push for nine straight wins early in the game. The Battalion jumped out to a 1-0 lead just 1:30 into the first period thanks to a goal by Barclay Goodrow. Sudbury had an almost instant reply when Connor Crisp ripped a goal only a minute and 11 seconds later to make it 1-1.
Sudbury surged in the second period after killing off a double minor penalty to Crisp. Nathan Pancel and Cull potted goals less than one minute apart to blow the game wide open 3-1 for Sudbury.
The teams exchanged goals in the third period, with Pancel scoring on the power play and North Bay’s Jamie Lewis notching a late tally, to make the final 4-2.
The line of Cull, Danny Desrochers and Ray Huether were also feeling happy to pitch in, especially since they took responsibility for the first goal against.
“We had a tough start, so we felt obligated to get a goal back,” Cull said. “We were lucky our line scored and it ended up being the game winner. We did our job. It was a big rivalry game. It was a physical game. We stuck to our game plan and we played a simple game.”
North Bay head coach and director of hockey operations Stan Butler would have liked to have seen a full game effort out his team. Butler didn’t see much of a difference between winning and losing.
“The game was won in the second period,” Butler said. “The first and third periods were even. I give them credit. They jumped on two key plays in the second period and scored goals on us and that was the game. We have to play 60 minutes of hockey and not 40. It’s not good enough.”
Sudbury looks to continue its winning ways on Sunday when they hit the road to face the Sault Ste. Marie Greyhounds for a 2 p.m. match up. The Wolves will be looking to do more of the same type of play against the Greyhounds they used to beat North Bay.
“We have to keep playing a team game,” forward Mathew Campagna said. “We can’t get caught up in the streak.”
Game notesThe game’s three stars were: Nathan Pancel (first), Franky Palazzese (second) and Mathew Campagna (third).
The Wolves scratched Troy Timpano, David Eccles, Dominik Kahun, Kyle Capobianco and Brody Silk.
The Battalion scratched Vincent Praplan, Mike Baird, Brett McKenzie and Calvin Gomes.
Sudbury has a 19-9-3-3 record and is 9-1 in its last 10 games.
The Wolves killed off all seven penalties they took.