Carrick never had a chance to practice with the Wolves, but the moment he stepped through the doors to the dressing room, he knew he was in the right place.
“As soon as I walked in the room I could tell the boys on the team were close and together,” Carrick said. “I think it is a key component to have for a successful team. Right away, I could see the boys love each other and I know they will play for each other. It’s a great vibe in the dressing room. I’m happy to be here.”
It was a wild week of trade action as the Wolves bolstered the club with Carrick and Radek Faksa, from Kitchener, adding two proven veterans. Both new players made their presences felt against the Steelheads. Faksa also recorded an assist in the win and made an impact.
“Honestly, I thought Faksa was the best player on the ice,” Sudbury head coach Paul Fixter said. “He controlled the puck. He controlled the corners. He was a force. He made a lot of body contact. (Carrick) gets pucks to the net. He is very effective at that.”
It was anything but a convincing victory for the Wolves. Sudbury took control of the game in the first period when Nicholas Baptiste caused a turnover at the blueline and then out-hustled the Mississauga defender to the puck and raced in on a break-away before ripping a short-handed goal past Steelheads’ goalie Spencer Martin. Sudbury took a 3-1 lead into the first intermission thanks to goals by Mathew Campagna and Ray Huether. Mississauga’s Brett Foy kept the Wolves honest by scoring a late tally with 12 seconds to go in the opening frame.
The two teams exchanged goals in the second period to make the final 4-2. Jared Walsh scored for Mississauga, while Nathan Pancel found the back of the net for Sudbury. Sudbury goalie Franky Palazzese stopped 26 of 28 shots. Martin turned away 39 shots from the Wolves.
Despite the win, there wasn’t too much to brag about for the Wolves.
“It was good we were able to get the win, but we are a much better team than we showed,” Sudbury captain Kevin Raine said. “I think the guys coming in gave us too much confidence, maybe even some cockiness. I would like us to level our heads and make teams play up to our level instead of down to theirs.”
Raine couldn’t hide his enthusiasm for the latest additions to the club.
“I loved it,” Raine said. “Faksa was out there hitting guys and Carrick, I’m going to be asking him for pointers because his poise is unbelievable.”
Fixter has a favourite saying about victories. “They don’t ask how. They ask how many.” This was one of those games that elicited those words from Fixter. The head coach simply wanted to see a better effort from the players overall. With an influx of high-end players coming in, Fixter knows it will take time for the team to harmonize.
“I didn’t like our game tonight,” Fixter said. “Obviously I like the win. I thought we looked out-of-synch at times and I guess that is what happens with new players in the line-up and new combinations. We have to find who is going to work with whom in different situations. We will find the right combinations with the new bodies.”
Faksa had a smooth transition to the team thanks to the Kitchener connection in Sudbury. Fixter, Palazzese and forward Matt Schmalz were all part of the Kitchener organization last season.
“The guys helped me a lot and I’m glad we won,” Faksa said.
Carrick admitted he had the “jitters” to play his first game in a Sudbury uniform against his former team, a place he spent his entire two-and-a-half-year OHL career with.
“Once I released those jitters, I felt comfortable out there,” Carrick said.
Mississauga head coach and GM James Boyd made major moves this week to set his squad up for making noise in the future. Not only did Boyd deal his No. 1 defenceman in Carrick, but also shipped out one of his best goal scorers in Dylan Smoskowitz to Oshawa.
“Our plan is to build for next year and the year after,” Boyd said. “That said, we will still challenge for a playoff spot. The nature of our team, we had to improve for the future. Trevor was the heart and soul of our team. Getting LeBlanc bodes well for our future. He has developed a two-way game and shows a lot of promise.”
- The game’s three stars were: Nicholas Baptiste (first), Radek Faksa (second) Trevor Carrick (third).
- The Wolves scratched David Zeppieri, Brody Silk and Evan de Haan.
- The Steelheads scratched Bobby MacIntyre.
- Former Wolves defenceman Stefan LeBlanc, who was traded Thursday to Mississauga for Trevor Carrick, wore No. 23. LeBlanc wore No. 52 with the Wolves.
- With the win, the Wolves tied their franchise record for home wins in a row at 12 set during the 1994-95 season.