The Sudbury Wolves managed to be happy and annoyed at the same time after a 3-2 shoot-out loss to the Saginaw Spirit Jan. 24 at Sudbury Community Arena.
From the head coach to the players, they were thrilled with their energy and effort, but also disappointed with the end result. It was the kind of effort everyone was looking for after a tough 7-4 road loss to Peterborough the night before.
The win and two points were there for the taking, over and over again especially in the third period when the Wolves buzzed the Saginaw net with tremendous pressure, but they just couldn’t seize the moment.
In the end, Saginaw’s Blake Clarke scored the third shoot-out goal and game winner for the Spirit, after the teams couldn’t solve the game in regulation and overtime.
The Wolves earned a point, but their 12-game home winning streak came to an end with the loss, which was also the club’s fourth in a row.
“No matter what, no one is satisfied with the result,” Sudbury defender Jeff Corbett said. “It was a better effort than the game against Peterborough. It was good, but not good enough. It sucks to lose. We have to get the win on Sunday against Barrie. We have something to prove.”
There was no lack of intensity and rough, physical play in the game. The tone was set 45 seconds into the first period when Sudbury’s Trevor Carrick and Saginaw’s Justin Kea dropped their gloves and went toe-to-toe for about one minute in the Wolves zone.
Both players threw haymakers and uppercuts and eventually tired themselves out before being split up by the officials. Afterwards while the players cooled off in the penalty boxes, Carrick gave Kea a smile and thumbs up gesture. Kea smiled back and nodded his head several times in approval.
“Trevor Carrick stepped up for the guys,” Wolves forward Connor Crisp said. “It was huge. The energy on the bench after that was unbelievable.”
The Wolves surged and buzzed the Spirit net after the tilt and were rewarded with the game’s first goal when Jacob Harris skated in from the low boards and swung the puck past Spirit goalie Jake Paterson on the glove side at 2:54 of the opening period.
The score remained 1-0 for Sudbury until the second period. The Spirit popped two goals in the second period by Michael Holmes and a power play marker by Justin Sefton. Sudbury’s Crisp also tallied a goal to make the score 2-2 after two periods of play.
Neither team could find the back of the net in the third period.
The Wolves made a furious push in the final minute of regulation and were all over the Spirit, but couldn’t find one more weak link in Paterson’s armour.
The game went to shoot-out where Saginaw’s Cody Payne, Dylan Sadowy scored on their first two attempts. Sudbury’s Crisp and Carrick answered back for Sudbury. The Wolves Radek Faksa was stopped Sudbury’s fourth try. This set up Clarke’s game winner on Sudbury goalie Franky Palazzese.
“I didn’t think the game should have gone into overtime,” Sudbury head coach Paul Fixter said. “We had ample scoring chances to put it away. You can’t score if you miss the net as much as we did. It was a good hockey game. It sucks losing, but it was a good hockey game. It was a physical game. We wanted to get that back in our game and we did. You play like that you’re going to win more than you lose for sure.”
The Wolves were making no excuses after the loss. They knew the win slipped through their fingers.
“You can say what ifs all night as much as you want, but we had our chances and they just were not going in,” Crisp said. “You can never have too much traffic in front of an all-star goalie like (Paterson). Hopefully on Sunday we can capitalize.”
The Spirit are hanging tough in the Western Conference and the team feels its close to becoming a real contender as long as they can clear a few more hurdles. Former Wolves player Sefton likes his team’s chances down the road if they can bring their game up another level.
“We can make noise when we are on our game, but we are too inconsistent” Sefton said. “We have beat London and then thrown away the next game to a team we shouldn’t have lost to. We beat ourselves. We need consistency if we are going to go far in the playoffs.”
Despite the loss, the Wolves had plenty of positives to keep in mind for their Jan. 26 match against Central Division rival Barrie Colts. Game time at Sudbury Community Arena is 2 p.m.
“We played with energy. We played with intensity. We competed hard,” Fixter said. “There is a lot to build off that game. We have to stay positive even though we lost.”
-The game’s three stars were: Jake Paterson (first), Franky Palazzese (second) and Connor Crisp (third).
-The Wolves scratched Matt Schmalz, Conor Cummins and Brody Silk.
The Spirit scratched David Ovsjannikov, Daniel De Sousa, Kris Bennett and Jimmy Lodge.
-Sudbury’s Connor Crisp recorded 36 points last season in 63 games with Erie. In 45 games this season with Sudbury, Crisp has 35 points, including 19 goals.
-Sudbury goalie Franky Palazzese made 43 saves in the game.
Sudbury went 0-2 on the power play and allowed one power play goal against on three Saginaw chances.